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The Day I Was Diagnosed With HIV

By B. Osten

March 8, 2012

The year was 1987. I remember it was raining that day. I woke up to what I thought was vertigo. It turned out to be a form of toxemia. In other words, a bacterial infection. An opportunistic infection that occurs in individuals who have weakened immune systems. If the news of being HIV+ wasn't devastating enough, I contracted a staph infection during my stay in the hospital to boot.

Like many of my generation, the answer to HIV and AIDS was "Don't ask. Don't tell." I never thought the reality of it would hit so close to home. Unbeknownst to me, my partner of eleven years was diagnosed with AIDS the previous year. Reflecting back, the telltale signs of the disease were in plain sight. I guess I just refused to see it. But truthfully, I was ignorant of it. And continued to be for some time even after my diagnosis. You see, my partner was very controlling, manipulative and abusive. Even years after our relationships ended, I still remained in a dysfunctional friendship with him. My new life doesn't allow him in it. Not out of hate but out of love. Love for myself. It's been a very, very long time since I could say that.

Like many infected with HIV at the time, I went underground. Underground clubs that is. Falling into the lure of the music, the dancing, and ultimately the drugs. But, unlike most of the tweakers, I wasn't promiscuous at all. Quite the opposite. I didn't frequent bathhouses, cruise the parks or back alleys. Rarely did I have a one night stand. I attribute this to being a long time survivor of the virus.

The day I was diagnosed with HIV was the day I became responsible. Responsible for my past, present and future discretions.

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See Also
Day One With HIV: Finding Out Your Status, in Your Own Words's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed
More "Just Diagnosed" Stories

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Chuck (Los Angeles, CA) Fri., Mar. 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm UTC
The day I tested positive, I had two insights from a moment of absolute clarity. First, I knew before going in to get the results that I was positive; this was an intuitive thing, the only clue I had was the horrible flu like symptoms I had for two weeks the previous month. The second was that I would not survive long if I kept living the way I was living. It took me another 8 months to finally "get" sober after trying for a couple of years, but that moment of facing my mortality made crystal clear to me that I wanted to live.
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Comment by: Joe (N.Y.C.) Fri., Mar. 16, 2012 at 11:37 am UTC
I don't believe the H.I.V. virus is detectable in a person that has just been infected with it for at least several years after. All the testing in the world isn't going to produce a positive result for at least 5 to 10 years or so... It is the reason why the disease is so wide spread through out the world. Many people feel they are positive and get checked then when they get the results are opposite, go out and continue to live their lives the same way and pass on the virus to the next person... The testing isn't conclusive...
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Olivia @ (New York, NY) Fri., Mar. 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm UTC
As stated here and on countless occasions in the Safe Sex forum, an HIV antibody test is considered conclusive out past 90 days from potential exposure. HIV may not have obvious effects on the body for several years, but an HIV test result is considered conclusive in a matter of months.

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Positive Thinking

B. Osten

B. Osten

I've been living with HIV for 26 years. I volunteer at various AIDS organizations in my community in the day. At night I like to spend my time at the observatory. I couldn't tell you the names of all the planets offhand, or what a black hole is for sure. But, there isn't a day that goes by I haven't looked up at the night sky and thanked my lucky stars I'm still alive to enjoy it.

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