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Fear of HIV
      #6107 - 06/23/00 08:55 PM

I hope with this post I can connect on some level with people who, like me, have lived in fear of HIV/AIDs and let it cast a pall over their lives. First let me describe to you how fear of the disease affected me. I have been with my wife for five years (although we got married only a year ago). During a rough patch in the first year of us living together, she left to stay with her mother for a while, and I had unsafe sex with an ex-girlfriend and I performed unsafe oral sex on a prostitute at a massage parlor. When my wife and I worked out our problems, I was completely ashamed of how I had been unfaithful to her and never told her about my infidelity.

Shortly thereafter I got really scared of the possibility of having HIV. I was reading a lot of information on this and other sites and I was convinced a) I went through Seroconversion Syndrome b) I was experiencing HIV related health problems c) I had given my wife HIV and she was experiencing HIV related health problems.

The fear of this disease destroyed my life for over three years. Although I put on a good front, inside I was devastated by what I thought was the certainty that at some point I was going to have to face the music. I was terrified that I would be responsible for the death of my wife. I lived with nightmares of trying to explain to our families that I had screwed up big time.

Finally, recently, I got the courage up to take an anonymous home test. I sent the blood sample in and then didn't call for a month. When I finally got the courage up to dial the number, it would say "Transferring you to a counselor" and I would hang up. Further proof to myself that I was positive (If you're negative don't they just send you to a recording???). When I finally had courage enough to stay on the phone and get my result... Guess What? Negative.

I read stories every day about brave PWA living incredible lives, looking at life as that much more precious because of the battles they are fighting, and here I was, a person without HIV walking depressedly through three years of my life, without the courage to find out if I was positive or not. Scared of the consequences of my lies.

The message I would like to send to anyone out there who, like me, cheated on a partner or spouse and now fears they are infected. Get tested. Find out the answer. The reasons for doing so are as follows:

1) You may not be positive. You may ruin time you should be enjoying in life fearing the unknown.

2) I can only imagine that if I had tested positive, life could only have gotten better, compared to the fearful, dark existence I was living. All of the tears, recrimination and health issues that arose from a diagnosis would have definitely been outweighed by the benefit of living an honest existence.

3. Knowledge is power. If you fear you are infected, or have infected a partner or spouse, you owe it to them to find out so that they can get the help (and meds) they need as soon as possible.

I am convinced, based on my three year dark odyssey through site after site of bulletin boards and informational resources, that there is an epidemic of AIDs fear in this country. I don't think prevailing attitudes or laws help much. I have seen so many people post the same questions as me, express the same sorts of fears as I did.

I still have problems dealing with my lying and infidelity, but there is no way I could tell my wife now that I went through three years of desperate living. I am just going to chalk it up to experience and try to enjoy the sunshine outside.

If anyone has the same fears I expressed, email me...

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