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On Finding Strength
Nov 25, 1996

Hi, I hope maybe you can give me some guidance. I am a 21 yr old female student and about 5 months ago I had gotten together with a man who I knew, but not very well at all. This is not something I usually do. I felt so terrible after it, and although we practiced "safer sex", there was an instance when there might have been a chance for exposure. Now, I have no reason to believe he is infected; in fact, he told me that he had recently tested negative. But since I do not know him that well, I'm not sure I can trust him. I have been plagued with guilt the last 5 months. I have been planning to get tested after the 6-month window period, but now I am so scared because I am afraid that a positive result might push me further into the depression I have been in for years. I am also afraid of what the news would do to my loved ones. I feel like I made one stupid mistake my whole life, and this mistake is going to ruin my future and destroy my family. I have never been an emotionally stable person, I can only imagine how I'd react if I tested positive. I know my chances are slim, but I keep hearing about the increasing rate of infection among females who contract it from sex and it is scaring me. Part of me feels that God is making an example out of me... see, this can happen to anyone, even a "good" girl. I just can't find the strength to find out for sure, but I can't go on like this. Thank you for providing this service. Just typing about this brings some comfort, I hope your response can bring a little more.

Response from Rev. Pieters

I don't believe that God "makes an example" out of anyone... that's just not how God works. IF you test positive, God didn't give you the virus. God is and will be with you to help you through all the challenges of living with HIV. See my article: "HIV/AIDS: Is It God's Judgment?" You're understandably scared, but deciding not to get tested because of your fears is not a good reason. If you test negative, think of the relief you'll feel! And if you test positive, there are now ways to treat HIV through treatments combining antiviral drugs with protease inhibitors. The sooner you start the treatments, the better are your chances of living long and well with HIV. And there are many professionals who can help you deal with the emotional impact of testing positive. Remember, testing positive does NOT mean an automatic, imminent death sentence. I cannot guarantee you that you will not test positive. But from what you've written, it doesn't seem highly likely. Nevertheless, you won't resolve your negative feelings until you know. I can guarantee you that if you are positive, and you don't get tested and treated, HIV disease can and will destroy your life. But with knowledge and treatment, you can live long and well. Courage doesn't mean the absence of fear. Courage means being afraid, and doing it anyway. Go get tested, even though you're scared. Finally, try to "let go and let God." Trust God to be with you through whatever challenges life throws at you. Please read Matthew 6:25-34, in which Jesus speaks very eloquently about handling anxiety and worry.



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