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A personal account: HIV -
Apr 2, 1998

This is not so much a question, as a desire to communicate to others who are unsure/afraid/anxious as to whether they have HIV, that the number one thing to do, by far, is to get tested. Insecurity of whether or not I had HIV took control of my life. The opportunity for infection for me (Heterosexual vaginal intercourse) happened in Europe. Although I used a condom, I later found out that my partner had used intravenous drugs. Terrified, I recalled that I had fingered her, and that at the time, I had cuts on my fingers. I began to search the Internet daily and to examine myself to see if I had signs of HIV. In my mind, I did. I had lost a lot of weight, I had funny bumps on my face, my skin was dry, I even had mild episodes of bloody diarrhea. One day I woke up and looked in the mirror, and my tongue had bumps along the sides. I was utterly convinced that I had HIV. What aggravated my despair was that upon returning from overseas, I had become engaged, and had unprotected sex with my fiancee. After a few months, she began to complain about headaches, nightsweats and joint pain. I was facing the most horrible dilemma of my life. Not only did I think that I was going to die, but that I had stolen the life of the woman I loved. I could not, for anything, tell her that I was possibly infected. I hid it from everyone, and at times, even myself. Finally, after several times of picking up the phone, and hanging up, I scheduled an appointment at Whitman-Walker clinic to get tested. It had been over 8 months since the opportunity for infection. I walked to the clinic and sat in a room with at least 30 other people. I thought I was going to feel ashamed, or out of place. I did not. Everyone was there for the exact same reason: fear of the unkown. It was heartening. I took the test, which was Orasure, it was easy and painless. As I put the little stick into the vial, I took a good hard look at it, and resignedly closed the cap. The two days to wait were strange, but I felt so much better that at least I had taken a step to regain control of my life, rather than remaining in the dark. When I was walking to the clinic to get the results all I could imagine was that somewhere in a file was the fulcrum of my life. Sitting there, waiting, was difficult, but not as difficult as the past 8 months of fear of willing to find out. I, fortunately, was negative. In the parlance of testing, I "closed the window." All the help and support of sites like these, and the genuine compassion of the Whitman - Walker clinic made the process bearable, and eased the veil of mystery over AIDS and HIV. I am eternally grateful to The Body for its no nonsense advice, mixed with humor and compassion. I would just repeat to anyone who is afraid, or uncertain, get tested, and don't be afraid to rely on others.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. I hope other people will learn from your experience and advice.

If you have any further comments, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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