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HIV Life >> I Just Tested Positive

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Phoenix1012
Newbie

Reged: 09/08/08
Posts: 9
Professional in NY feeling alone
      #241894 - 09/08/08 08:10 AM

Hi everyone,
I tested positive in January of this year. Since then, I have been carrying around the shame of having caught this. You see, I am in the mental health profession and we have to receive mandatory training every two years on HIV/AIDS. Despite my knowledge, my desire to have external validation from men now put me in this position.

To make matters worse, I just relocated to the area to complete my degree. My dreams have finally come true but now I have to deal with this. I have told very few people and feel alone. I tried a support group while I was living in NJ but I just didn't feel that I could relate to these folks. They were great guys but all with long term battles with this and none of them were working professionals. Not to devalue them based on this, not at all. I don't wantto receive posts telling me what a snob I am because I am really not.

I would like to find professionals who have this disease as well, folks who like me, knew better, yet did what they did and have it now. Just feeling like I am the only fool out there. I walk around the office wondering, if only they knew they would think less of me. Please, anyone out there in my shoes?

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RevAnn
Guru

Reged: 08/17/06
Posts: 245
Loc: fort myers, florida
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241899 - 09/08/08 08:44 AM

Dear Phoenix,

Seeing how you just found out in Jan, you are not a snob. It is hard to relate to those of us who have been dealing with this for years. I can relate to working with this. Until this past March, I worked as a Rad Tech. It could be very difficult. However, I went back to school after my diagnosis. For years I did not share this fact with any co-workers. However, for me, I was tired of hearing ignorant comments about those who were infected, so I started opening up and educating them.
I would tell you that this does not make you less of a person and given what your profession is, you will be able to relate to so many more people.
Take a deep breath, complete your education and live. You may want to find out if there is a group for recently pos people.
Good luck to you.

Ann

--------------------
Namu-Myoho-Renge-Kyo

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Florida69
Legend

Reged: 02/19/07
Posts: 541
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241901 - 09/08/08 09:02 AM

Phoenix, sometimes stuff happens. You try to live your life as best you can, and do the things that are necessary to protect yourself, but you have no control over anyone but yourself. I knew better too, and have been affected by this disease since I came out of the closet almost 18 years ago. I found out I was infected 2 years 9 months ago. You will get through. I am a professional person, I dated this guy for a few months, the sex was good, but one night after sex he took the condom off and started again. I had no idea the condom was off, and until I went to feel for it and immediately stopped the act, unfortunately I was too late. I didn't know I was too late until almost two years later. It is a good thing that you found out you had this virus before you got an OI or some other negative related infection. Good luck, and we are always here if you need us. Welcome to the Body.. D

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oldwoman
Guardian

Reged: 05/12/07
Posts: 435
Loc: Phila,Pa
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241917 - 09/08/08 12:00 PM

I can understand how you feel,I'm an LPN who went through yearly training on bloodbourne pathogens including HIV/AIDS and always stressed to my kids that they should use condoms every time they had sex,even made sure I had them in the house for my kids and any of their friends that needed them.Guess who is the only one of us to get HIV? Yeah I felt like a real idiot with all my preaching and I was the one not using condoms.

I found out in April '04 so I've had time to come to terms with it,you will too.Give yourself time and remember to breathe.Learn everything you can about this disease,cause learning about it during an in-service and learning about it because you have it are two very different things.

take care
Terry



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Phoenix1012
Newbie

Reged: 09/08/08
Posts: 9
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241937 - 09/09/08 07:40 AM

Hi there,
Thanks so much for your response and honesty. My question to you is: how did you reconciliate "knowing better" and still contracting it. I was okay up until a few days ago until I started on meds. Since then, the shame has been so much to deal with. I am so busy at work that I get distracted but sometimes I think to myself, what a loser i am? Where do you go for support?

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oldwoman
Guardian

Reged: 05/12/07
Posts: 435
Loc: Phila,Pa
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241939 - 09/09/08 08:19 AM

I was in the hospital with pneumonia when I found out so friends and family already knew something was wrong,everyone was very supportive,visits,cards the whole thing but I,like you,kept thinking"what if they knew".After I got out I got CMV retinitis and I was talking to one of my co-workers who asked"is that one of those opportunistic infections" and I realized that the whole time I was worrying about telling,they already knew.Maybe being professionals and having worked with patients with AIDS we all had a more accepting attitude,I don't know,but no one ever seemed to look at me differently.My family has been very supportive right from the start,I told them immediately after finding out myself.To me it seems like the worry about somebody "finding out"was worse than just telling them upfront and getting that out of the way,I only had one bad experience and that one I expected.I feel that by being open about it I can control the whispering"do you know what she has","I heard Terry has AIDS",people can't gossip about something that is common knowledge.Not to say it's always easy,especially this summer when I met a guy I really liked,there was that fear,"when do I tell him?","what if I tell him and he leaves?"
Soon after I found out I took some classes on HIV and have gone out teaching others about the disease,HIV prevention and ways to care for yourself.I tried to put as positive a spin on my life since as I could.I would love to get a job working at a nursing home/rehab here that only takes residents with HIV/AIDS.
Ive always felt that now I have it I need to help prevent others from getting.The part that surprises most people is that I am an older,white,professional woman.I don't fit the "profile" of someone with AIDS.It helps me stress my point that you can't tell by how someone looks.

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Florida69
Legend

Reged: 02/19/07
Posts: 541
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241946 - 09/09/08 12:14 PM

Quote:

ISoon after I found out I took some classes on HIV and have gone out teaching others about the disease,HIV prevention and ways to care for yourself.I tried to put as positive a spin on my life since as I could.I would love to get a job working at a nursing home/rehab here that only takes residents with HIV/AIDS.
Ive always felt that now I have it I need to help prevent others from getting.The part that surprises most people is that I am an older,white,professional woman.I don't fit the "profile" of someone with AIDS.It helps me stress my point that you can't tell by how someone looks.




Terry, you are so inspirational, know you are loved by many of us here, and you always know just what to say to pick us up, I am so grateful that you are in my life.. D

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oldwoman
Guardian

Reged: 05/12/07
Posts: 435
Loc: Phila,Pa
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241962 - 09/10/08 08:13 AM

Thanks Donny,I always look forward to your responses too.You seem to always be able to find the right thing to say to people
Terry

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jody417
Newbie

Reged: 09/10/08
Posts: 1
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241970 - 09/10/08 08:12 PM

I live in CA, but just wanted to let you know a good site is HIVAidsTribe.com, people from around the world are members, it's kinda like a myspace for HIVers, you meet lots of people, and hopefully someone near by. Good Luck, Jody jody417@aol.com

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toothsaver
Newbie

Reged: 09/10/08
Posts: 1
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241971 - 09/10/08 08:16 PM

HEY BUDDY. I ALSO TESTED POZ AND BEGAN MEDS IN JAN THIS YR. I AM 37YO ...A DENTIST IN THE SOUTH FOR THE LAST 10 YRS. MOST DAYS ARE GOOD BUT SOMETIMES I JUST GET TOTALLY OVERWHELMED WITH THE ISSUES IM FACING NOW HAVING HIV. LOOKING FOR VALIDATION FROM MEN HITS VERY CLOSE TO ME. I COMPLETELY AGREE(BEEN THERE AND DONE IT). WOULD BE GREAT TO TALK WITH YOU.

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NYRN
Newbie

Reged: 09/10/08
Posts: 2
Loc: NYS
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241973 - 09/10/08 09:05 PM

I've been pos for 12 years and have not stopped working. I have a good career and only a few of my close friends and family know.

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TdavisMSW
Newbie

Reged: 05/21/08
Posts: 8
Loc: Ft. Lauderdale
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241974 - 09/10/08 09:11 PM

Hi Pheonix,

Your story sounds identical to mine. During grad school, and whenever I was given the option to do so, I chose to focus my research on services for gay men with HIV. After graduation, I worked for the second largest AIDS Service Organization in the country in the home health department (translate: I worked with people with end-stage HIV disease). Up to that point, I practiced safer-sex religiously (I came out at 14), but STILL "slipped" and contracted HIV when "I should have known better." I wrote about my experiences for another ASO newsletter. I believe that you'll be able to relate to a lot of what I wrote. You can read it here:

"A Basilisk's Egg...." Cover aritcle
http://www.beingalivela.org/pdf-downloads/2004newsletter/BA-News-0104.pdf

AND

"Lighting Cigarettes...." Page 13
http://www.beingalivela.org/pdf-downloads/2004newsletter/BA-News-0504.pdf

I do think that those of us who work in the helping professions are much harder on ourselves. Remember, you did nothing wrong. You engaged in human behavior. I'm a mental health professional in the medical field (for 12 years now), and I can assure you that some doctors smoke, some nurses eat too many burgers, and some of both do drugs. It's not the healthiest way for them to cope with the challenges of the medical profession, but it is THEIR way of coping. The fact that you're a mental health professional doesn't mean that you don't also sometimes choose a way of coping (i.e., seeking external validation for who you are) that isn't conducive to what you really want in life. However, this doesn't mean that you're not a wonderful therapist with MUCH to offer your clients. A good accountant for others sometimes forgets to balance their own checkbook.

What I'VE learned in my own work with clients is that when I'm able to acknowledge that I'm human and then forgive myself when I don't make the best choices, I then also give permission to my clients to forgive themselves. I'm then able to speak WITH my clients, rather than AT my clients, because I speak from experience - not a textbook. My working relationships with my clients is MUCH more effective when I'm able to normalize their feelings through selective and intermittent self-disclosures of my own experiences.

No, you're NOT a snob. It is VERY important for you to find the right group of people for whom you feel can understand what you're going through, and support you in a non-judgmental way. We think differently than nurses and doctors or the general population, so talking subconscious motivations for engaging in coping behaviors (even for the lay person with HIV) is not something most people CAN relate to.

Lastly, and you probably already know this, but learning is not linear. Just when you think you've learned to cope with your diagnosis you'll find that you have to re-learn it in a different situation. I've been HIV-positive for 8 years now, and I'm still learning. You will get better at it - if you allow yourself to forgive yourself.

If you'd like to talk, I can be reached at TdavisMSW@aol.com

Be well,
Terry

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taurusthecat
Master

Reged: 11/02/06
Posts: 131
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241976 - 09/10/08 10:51 PM

Hi Phoenix, I'm in Australia and would like to offer input to you about my own personal experience with HIV support groups. I was diagnosed in 1999 and was at the time working fulltime for a govt agency in admin, renting a house on my own and trying to make ends meet. I was quite a fit person and had carried around herpes since the age of 16 (was 36 at the time of my hiv diagnosis and treated for the herpes with ongoing daily acyclovir for over 8 years) and hepC since I was about 22, undetectable in my system, but still a worry. I add these 2 things to this post because at the time of my hiv diagnosis I had already carried around permanent viral hitchhikers for most of my adult life and was used to the idea of having something I could never be rid of and to some extent had come to peace with the notion; "you don't hurt me you may as well come along for the ride, what choice do I have anyway?". So while I did suffer strong depression and problems emotionally dealing with the diagnosis in 1999 to begin with, underneath it all I had a starting point that life had to go on, it was just a virus after all, and I would just get on with life as best I could.

I continued working at my job for 2 years and told no-one there about my status, like herpes etc I didn't think it was anyone's business and didn't affect who I was or what I had to offer in day to day life. I never defined myself by my hiv, it was just an intrusion, and like the herpes, I never blamed myself and felt guilt, it was just an unfortunate medical situation I was forced to deal with.

Sometime around 2001 I became ill and developed pneumonia, it started as a bad cold, I took a few days of work thinking I would just get over it and ended-up lying in bed with no-one knowing how sick I was and nearly died. By a sheer chance a guy who I had met randomly a couple of months earlier phoned me out of the blue to say hi and when he found out I was so sick he came over, made me something to eat and called my doctor who came to my house and told me I had to go straight to hospital. I'd been keeping to myself and just working and not socialising so normally I wasn't called by anyone, they waited for me to call them. Having someone call when I was in this state was so extraordinary, and I was so ill that I could hardly speak, let alone get out of bed. I'd managed to stagger to my cell phone and it was on my pillow next to me, in my delirium I had managed to somehow force myself through the pain to move myself out of the bed and find the phone and bring it back to bed, but not have enough strength to call anyone, just lay there sweating in excruciating pain and slowly fade away. I was sent to hospital for several weeks and got better in the end. I have related this here because at the time I was pretty isolated (my choice) but the fright of being alone and nearly dying in bed (my first ever experience with anything related to my hiv and worsened immune system) made me re-evaluate my living situation. I came up with the idea that maybe I should try to find a large rental house, advertise for other hiv people and form a sort of commune in it, if there were enough people we could easily afford the rent and in times of illness such as I had just gone through, there would likely be someone there to bring you hot soup, phone your employer, hold your hand and generally be supportive, and in times of health you would be an understanding person who knew what they were going through and do the same for them. In my head it seemed like a great idea.

I had never visited any sort of hiv support group to that time, as I said I had just gone on with life and treated the hiv as an inconvenience, so had absolutely no experience with anyone else having hiv on a scale like a support group, where this is a massed group of people all with the condition in the one place. Deciding to advertise for other hiv people to organise a houseshare, I put up a notice in the drop-in centre in my city and waited for responses. Well I did get responses, I had chosen the drop-in hiv centre because it was the one and only place where hiv pos guys went and were all in the one spot. But after never having known more than the odd person here or there with hiv socially, I was suddenly faced with many at once and I am sorry to say I was not impressed. I had a guy move into my house who was in 'desperate need' of somewhere to live straight away, we decided that we would organise the new house together. He left without notice after only 3 weeks for no reason, he went to a new houseshare closer to the city paying no security or bills and owing rent I had counted on in my personal budget. Another guy from the drop-in centre who had contacted me earlier and then decided he didn't want to live in my area miraculously got back in touch with me the same week the first guy moved out and I was in a panic, at the time I didn't realise it, but he knew the first guy. He moved in and brought with him 2 friends who were also hiv to help him move in, one of them took a shine to me and we became briefly close, he had major personal issues and wanted to move in as well. I was just made redundant from my job and was out of work and now had no income, this new guy did roofing and told me I could work with him and everything would be fine but when I told the first guy this he moved out without notice, they all disappeared from my life and 2 days later I phoned the second guy to talk with him to try to find out what had happened and all three of them were laughing and joking at a dinner party at the roofing guy's flat, I could hear the first guy's voice in the background. I never saw any of them again. I could not find work, became depressed ended-up homeless. I phoned a friend who was hiv I had known for a few years and stayed on his living room floor, he had another guy I had met socially a while before homeless and staying with him as well, also hiv. We decided to find a place to rent together. We found a place, moved in after much searching and hard work to find the place, I spent the first week away at a friends visiting and when I returned home found the guy had left all his bags of stuff and just disappeared lumping me with the lease and bills and no housemate. He never returned for his things and though I knew he visited this hiv drop-in centre and left him notes asking him to at least let me know what was going on and to bring back his keys, he never contacted me or came back for his things in the next 2 years.

While I cannot generalise on mass groups of people with hiv and how they behave, I can relate this story of my own experience when faced with trying to make a normal life for myself and having a lot of people with the condition come into my life at the one time. They were all flaky, irresponsible, and jealous that I did not see myself as a victim or identify primarily as a person with hiv.

A couple of years later I moved into a government supported unit of my own and utilised the services of the hiv centre for financial assistance to purchase a new refrigerator and washing machine, they were wonderful and the support system from them was great, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about them. But the many people all flocking to the centre I found to be bad to be around, they were people who had unhealthy lifestyles, identified too much with the virus, could not seem to understand that someone wanted to make their lives better and that their life was not over just through having hiv and when faced with me who was not like them, they almost actively tried to destroy things for me, sort of saying in a way "who does he think he is! He thinks he's so much better than we are!" when all I was trying to do was have a good life, improve my situation and get on with working and enjoying life.

This will not be everyone's experience of course, I know that, but it was mine and I would say to you Phoenix, that if you feel like you don't just automatically gel with groups of hiv people and support centres, it might be a mistake to give yourself a hard time over it, it may be that like myself and probably many others, you are not someone who is personally defined by your condition and they are. If you feel no connection to most other hiv people in your area please don't give yourself a hard time, think of my story here and thank your lucky stars that you are probably just not on their wavelength mentally and that by virtue of your differences you will be allowed to get on with creating a happy, successful and peaceful life without jealous and unhealthy interference.

Many people who are diagnosed hiv use the condition to identify with and define who they are. They use it as an excuse to do nothing with their lives, have even more unprotected sex, take more drugs and when they come across someone who is not like this they can sometimes lash out and try to spoil things for that person. Be thankful that you are not among that number and stop thinking you are being a snob. You are who you are and your hiv has not changed your personality in anyway, there is no law which says you HAVE to associate with others with the same medical condition, I found out myself that this sometimes does not work at all and depending on your life-goals, mental makeup and attitude to your hiv, it's sometimes better to avoid others with hiv in your local area altogether.

Taurusthecat

--------------------
I'm like fake fruit...... I don't bruise that easy.

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maxx
Newbie

Reged: 09/11/08
Posts: 2
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone new
      #241980 - 09/11/08 08:14 AM

Hi,
I am a nurse living with HIV for 11 years now. I have only been open with a handful of people and definitely none that I work with. I went out on disability when I was first diagnosed, because I almost died. took about a year to recover from PCP, wasting, etc.
It took another 5 years to realize that it was ok for me to work as a nurse with HIV (did some non-nursing work for a while). I knew this intellectually, but I couldn't bring myself to look for a job again, just basically feeling not worthy.
I do work now as a nurse and still feel that it's nobody's business what goes on in my personal life. I would never tell anyone at work.
I also tried the support group in the beginning and felt the same way. I've always had a positive attitude (or maybe its a head in the sand attitude, don't know) even when newly diagnosed and very sick. I hated that none of the people at the group were working or had any intention of it. Most were accustomed to taking advantage of the welfare system, and made no secret of it. I went 2 or 3 times and never went back.

You are not a fool, you are human. We make mistakes. Unfortunately ours will always be with us. One good thing to come out of this is that at least we are aware of our status, many aren't. We know that we must have safe sex, under all circumstances and people that are unaware may continue to take chances. You are not your disease, you are a proffessional that has a disease. You are not a snob, you are looking for people that you can relate to. I can understand that. Hope this helps.

I would love to attend a group of proffessionals if you find any, I would go. I'm only about an hour from NYC.


Edited by maxx (09/11/08 08:15 AM)

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charlespitre
Newbie

Reged: 09/11/08
Posts: 1
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone
      #241985 - 09/11/08 09:36 AM

nope, you're not alone. i'm a mental health professional in the Seattle area providing direct clinical services in the gay community, many members of which have HIV. it can be a bit sometimes being a person with HIV providing services to others with it. at work everyone knows my status and are very supportive. there's a period of adjustment and fear, but silence still = death...

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