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My HIV Journey: 13 Months of Videos Following My Diagnosis

August 2012

aaron_jdrc

Aaron Laxton

I am simply a guy who on June 6, 2011, received the news that more than 33 million people have received: I am HIV positive. I decided in that moment to record the journey that I was embarking on so that I might help others as they receive that news. I'm not a doctor and I don't endorse any agenda other than simply living a healthy life.

Table of Contents

  • Day 4 of HIV Diagnosis (June 10, 2011)
    "I found this video on my cell phone that I had shot 4 days after being diagnosed with HIV. I am uploading this so that maybe someone else that feels the same way will be comforted. Let me know what you think. It gets better!"
  • Refusal to Participate in Life -- Seven Days After Being Diagnosed (June 13, 2011)
    "This was a video I made seven days after I was diagnosed. I show this simply so others can see that it does get better. ... Please excuse the poor audio but you get the point."
  • Let's Talk About HIV (July 5, 2011)
    "Let's talk about some basic HIV information that everyone needs to know. Some myths, ways you can contract it or spread it. Safe sex practices, AIDS/LifeCycle and a few other things."
  • I'm Still Aaron Even Though I'm Positive (July 7, 2011)
    "HIV doesn't change the person that I am. I am still the same friend, same lover, same person... so why act differently?"
  • I Refuse to Live With HIV in Silence (July 15, 2011)
    "Some of you may watch my videos and find them boring or simply uninteresting, and that is OK. I make my videos to help raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS as well as to let people see the ups and downs related to HIV."
  • Going Back to Work (July 20, 2011)
    "Today I am finally going back to work for the first time since being diagnosed. Yay me. I am feeling great and have some great things happening."
  • Why Do You Talk About HIV? (July 27, 2011)
    "Recently I was asked why I was posting so many things about HIV and talking about it so much. I talk about it because it is something that we need to talk about. We need to realize that it is a pandemic and that while we have made advancements with medication, we are far from a cure."
  • HIV, Sex and Dating (July 30, 2011)
    "A diagnosis of being HIV positive does not have to mean the end of your sex life. Everyone should engage in practices that encourages honesty and the use of safe sex methods. Additionally how a person views themselves is how others will view you."
  • Financial Considerations of HIV (July 31, 2011)
    "Many times it is easy to only think about the health issues related to HIV but there is another issue: How to pay for living with HIV. Medicine, labs, doctor visits, all have to be paid for somehow. This video just covers this briefly."
  • Decisions Leading Up to My HIV Infection (August 2, 2011)
    "A brief conversation about the poor decisions leading up to my HIV infection. I tell my story so that hopefully others will listen and learn."
  • HIV Day 58: Two-Month Anniversary of Diagnosis (August 4, 2011)
    "So it is hard to believe that almost two months ago I was diagnosed. This video gives you a behind the scenes look at where I make my videos; I also reflect on the last two months."
  • A Candid Conversation About How I Am Feeling (August 4, 2011)
    "No lights, no mics just me and my video recorder talking about how I feel -- side effects, disclosure issues and all the steps of adjusting to HIV."
  • Who Would You Tell That You Are HIV Positive? (August 22, 2011)
    "Just a question to consider. Who would you tell if you were HIV positive? Do you have anyone? Friends? Family? If you do not tell them, why not?"
  • How Do You Cope With Your HIV Diagnosis? (September 5, 2011)
    "How do you deal with your HIV diagnosis? I ask this question because I was recently in my room and it hit me that I am positive."
  • "Are You Dirty?", Inspiration and Sex Kits (September 20, 2011)
    "Just a brief look at what is meant when people say are you "dirty" on hookup sites, and how we have to stop allowing it to be said. Also, a friend spoke with me about getting his friends tested. Finally, I talk about safe sex kits."
  • Understanding Your Lab Tests (September 27, 2011)
    "As an HIV patient there are lab tests that you will become accustomed to. This is a video that briefly explains these tests and what they are measuring."
  • Advice for Positive People on How to Hook Up (October 4, 2011)
    "A viewer messaged me asking if I had any advice for positive people when hooking up. They went on to say that they find it perplexing when negative people that they hook up with ask them what is safe. Watch the video and let me know what you think."
  • Hope Is All You Have (October 9, 2011)
    "Day 125: Sometimes hope is all that you have. I make these videos not because everything is going right in my life, or because I have everything that I need."
  • Advice If You Are Newly Diagnosed With HIV (October 22, 2011)
    "Advice that would tell anyone was recently diagnosed with HIV. Most of these things I have learned firsthand and some I have been told by others."
  • Adjusting to the News of an HIV-Positive Diagnosis (October 24, 2011)
    "This reading comes from HIV The First Year: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed."
  • Healthier Choices Make Healthier People (October 24, 2011)
    "Another selected reading from HIV The First Year: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. This reading talks about the importance of living a healthy life."
  • HIV Denialists, Discordant Dating and Ideas (November 6, 2011)
    "Just an update on my life. I am 153 days into my journey with HIV. In this video I discuss HIV denialists, HIV-positive people dating negative people, and ask for ideas for future videos."
  • You Have HIV, So What? (November 14, 2011)
    "A video in response to a letter that a viewer sent me concerning a crush that he has on someone. Don't let HIV control your life, control HIV. Real love goes beyond HIV."
  • Latest Lab Results and Viewer Responses (November 15, 2011)
    "HIV Day 162! My latest viral load was 93 and my CD4 count was 708. Also I answer a few questions that viewers had for me: 1) telling others your status; 2) oral sex; 3) advice about being lonely."
  • Happy Thanksgiving (November 24, 2011)
    "On Day 170, as I near the six-month mark of my HIV journey, I reflect on what I am thankful for in my life. I wish each and every one of you a happy Thanksgiving. Let me know what you are thankful for."
  • Six Months After HIV Diagnosis, a Year After Becoming Positive (November 26, 2011)
    "On Day 172 I reflect on the holidays -- this is around the time last year that I was probably infected -- and the past six months since my diagnosis. I also offer an update on my life and look back at some of the things that I have faced during the last few months."
  • HIV Day 173: Something Reminds Me That I Have HIV (November 27, 2011)
    "Whether you were recently diagnosed or you have been diagnosed for awhile, the day you found out you were positive is a day you will never forget. As you move forward things change and return to normal, whatever that is, but life is never the same. I talk about my own experience."
  • Help Me, I Have HIV: Now What? (November 29, 2011)
    "In this video I offer advice to newly diagnosed patients or those that think they might be HIV positive. I offer steps that I used during the first few days and weeks of my own diagnosis with HIV. Also please know that you are not alone and that help is only a message away. Myself and others know the place where you are right now and it does get better"
  • Living With HIV, Putting Your Own Support System in Place (December 2, 2011)
    "With HIV there are good days and there are bad days. In order to get through them you have to have a support system in place that will be there to support you. In this video I talk about evaluating your friends and making choices about who will and will not be in your life."
  • Six-Month HIV Summary of My Life (December 14, 2011)
    "Six months since my diagnosis: What has changed? I have a new job and my health is great. I also talk about my new 30-day trial as a vegetarian. How are you doing with your diagnosis? Post a response and let me know."
  • HIV Day 207: 2011 Coming to an End (December 30, 2011)
    "As we close out 2011 I talk about my own HIV diagnosis. I hope that all of you are able to deal with HIV and you life. Let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you."
  • The End of a Relationship (January 2, 2012)
    "It's Day 209 of my HIV journey. In this video I discuss my recent breakup with my boyfriend and how HIV factored into the equation. I admit that this is an area where I am still growing and have lots of room to grow."
  • Managing HIV in Your Life (January 4, 2012)
    "In this video I respond to a viewer's question about how HIV has impacted my life. HIV doesn't make me feel like a different person and is only an aspect of who I am."
  • HIV and Drug Relapse (January 14, 2012)
    "In this video I talk about my own battle with drugs, relapse and what role my diagnosis had in my relapse. Acceptance of your own diagnosis can be hard but you have to find healthy ways to deal with the stress of life and of HIV."
  • HIV/AIDS, Guilt and Shame (January 18, 2012)
    "For me, HIV consists of the physical as well as the mental parts. Guilt and shame are things that play over and over but are not constructive. In this video I talk about support groups and talking to others about your HIV."
  • What It Feels Like to Get the News That You Have HIV (February 4, 2012)
    "For many people that receive the news that they are HIV positive this is how they feel. Many people cannot put it into words but this is how they feel. During the last six months there have been times in which I have felt most of these things."
  • Break From Making YouTube Videos (April 15, 2012)
    "Just a quick video on Day 314 to explain my month-long break from making videos. Sometimes I think it is important to pull back from your diagnosis and focus on other aspects of your life. Do not let HIV define you. For me it was a much-needed break to focus on simply living."
  • HIV Day 338: Examining the Last Year (May 9, 2012)
    "In order to know where we are going we must remember where we have been. In this video I talk about the last 338 days and some of the decisions that I made that helped me with my HIV diagnosis."
  • Disclosing Your Status (May 12, 2012)
    "Deciding whether or not to self-disclose one's HIV status is a huge decision that can be quite scary. In this video I talk about the best practices for doing this."
  • What Are You Doing to Fight HIV/AIDS? (June 17, 2012)
    "July is HIV Awareness Month and I pose the question: What are you doing to fight HIV/AIDS? Do you volunteer? Do you push to get your friends tested?"
  • What Does HIV Look Like? (June 19, 2012)
    "What does HIV look like? Who does HIV look like? In this video I talk about advocating for those with HIV/AIDS and for continuing the fight that others have started for us. Consider this a call to action and a challenge to not only fight with me but to fight for me in the fight of HIV/AIDS. Pick up the Red Ribbon and come with me!"
  • Health Care Reform, Choices and Advocacy (July 1, 2012)
    "In this video I talk about the implications personally of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. I also ask what choices you've had to make regarding your own health care. Finally, remember that HIV/AIDS is still very much an issue and we all must fight and work together to end it."
  • HIV Day 392: My Birthday Wish (July 3, 2012)
    "For my 33rd birthday, I ask my viewers to help spread the word about "My HIV Journey" and to join me in the fight of HIV/AIDS. I also reflect on the last year and my recent lab results, and I end with a challenge to all of you."


Related Stories

Aaron Laxton: My HIV Journey
Day One With HIV: Finding Out Your Status, in Your Own Words
TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed
More "Just Diagnosed" Stories
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This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Ben (kubuland) Sun., Dec. 7, 2014 at 7:34 am EST
My boyfriend is positive,i am negative,actually i meet this guy and fall in love ,even though its a distance relationships.then after 4 months he told me he is HIV positive i could not believe my eye,i tryied to ask him that maybe he was just making jokes but he never stopped until today,i love him ,but now i just want to quit,please i need your advice i don't think its good idea.i still love him very much and we still communicating.
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Comment by: LIZ MWANGI (NAIROBI KENYA) Thu., Jul. 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm EDT
Knowing our status its awakening call to avoid last stage of death. nothing changes if we are hiv positive but we change by living in denial instead living each at a time.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: soloson jay (Nigeria) Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm EST
the lord is ur strnth; u will live long in JESUS name.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Nicholas (Tulsa) Mon., Dec. 30, 2013 at 1:28 am EST
I realy hope you come back & do your shows . It's amazing how much help you give me & all your listeners . But i understand it can't be easy being so honest & open to the world. Well hope all is well my friend :)
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Comment by: binta (nigria) Fri., Nov. 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm EST
God is in control
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Comment by: marlon (Manila) Fri., Apr. 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm EDT
what is the time from your esxual exposure to the fist signs of HIV?
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Comment by: Ed (Malaysia) Tue., Dec. 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm EST
i was diagnosed with HIV almost same time with you and lucky i found good friend who really stand on my side to help me. I'm on HAART since November 2011 and love to help new HIV diagnosed to step forward and i really understand how you feel. Sorry my poor English but i really like your link and hope will help many people. Thanks
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Comment by: Anonymous Fri., Nov. 23, 2012 at 3:24 am EST
Thanks Aron I too tested positve a month ago and i have not disclosed to anyone I got ecouranged by your way of life i will be in touch
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Comment by: kevin (Durham, NC) Wed., Sep. 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm EDT
Hey there just watched your viedo. Your an inspriration to many i can already see that. I suffer from Bipolar 1 w/ Physcosis Panic disorder,Anxiety Disorder, PTSD. I am also a gay male HIV NEG as of yesterday. I noted that you abused your Rx drugs I had a problem with a drug called Ativan which is an benzotrpine In Aug, I stopped abusing them due to the withdraw i would get. It also makes you forget spaces and time I did engage in sexual activity aug 23rd but could not preform sexualy maybe that was my wake up call but i have a huge phobia of Hiv i have been tested at least 12 times since May of last year even when i havent ingaged in BB or other risky behavior. I am however extreamly isolated i have been since January due to my conditions the Drs just jam my mouth full of meds and send me home note im on Disablilty and medicare so im just a number. So what i have started doing is advocating For the prevention and testing for hiv thru Thebody.com and Adam4adam.com hoping to make a diffrenece, Its also people like you that make a diffrence in every thing you say i must say i did cry when you spoke how you ended up at this point because you were describing me (Less the sexual behavior) I would like to know if there is anything that i can help you with? I have been in treatment since 16 and hell im getting old im 35 now. Alcohol was my main medication sober since 4-12 and loving it. I have no car so i dont hook up or go to bars ex.. I just stay home ponder and worry about everything hince the panic attack and axiety im affraid to check the damn mail its that bad, Its life changing and i dont like it i have 2 friends i may see maybe 1 a mth. I just dont need the stress or it could trigger a attack with the phycosis and bipolar. Well i will end saying i wanna keep in touch with you i really do because something you said clicked in me and i would hate that to go to waste. TTYL! PRIDE!
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Comment by: Methe (Cologne, Germany) Sun., Sep. 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm EDT
I remember that time (June 2011) too well, but funnily, for just the opposite: I had been convincing myself for over two years that I was pos (after experiencing what I regarded as the f+++-flu). Two years I did not take a test out of fear of prosecution. Finally pains and constant colds became too much to bear. Late in May I went to the doctor to get tested. On June 3rd, I came to pick up my test. No answer on the phone, a regular visit (that doctor also being my GP). I was the last one in the waiting room. Because the doctor wanted to have a long talk to me on how HIV is treatable and stuff. I went this scenario through a thousand times in all those years. And yet, my heart pounded at the thought of being just minutes shy of being "officially" told my poz result. Then I went to his room, and the doctor started recounting the situation, and i impatiently cut him short and told him to just tell me that I was poz. He said the test were negative....Cant describe what happened inside me then, no outburst of joy, more like inner relief, bewilderment.. Im neg now for over a year, but besides that, nothing is good for me. Not my health, not my career, and I dont have a sex life out of fear of getting diseases. Sometimes I wonder, if i would be happier today if those resulsts back had come back poz.....

PS: (I am neg for sure, had multiple tests after that, both antibody and PCR, so no Chance there of false-negative)
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Comment by: Ken Warnock (Royal Oak, MI) Fri., Aug. 31, 2012 at 12:02 am EDT
Aaron,

You are an inspiration and a brave and courageous person!! Keep up your great work!! Hope to see you again soon!!

Peace,

Ken :)
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Comment by: Rick (Providence) Wed., Aug. 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm EDT
Do you think a lot of guys are getting HIV through oral sex?
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Steve (Milwaukee) Tue., Oct. 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm EDT
the risk for getting HIV via oral sex is zero.
Comment by: Andy Wed., Dec. 26, 2012 at 1:21 am EST
The risk for oral sex is only "almost zero" when neg guys are looking for reassurance about their behavior or poz guys are trying to rule out how they became infected. When someone actually catches HIV from oral sex they "were never promised it was risk free" and when the subject of disclosure and oral comes up we're always reminded how it's "still a risk". Clearly, there are some serious questions about what the actual risk is. The only thing we know is that the way we treat it indicates a clear double standard in thought and behavior.


Comment by: Anonymous Mon., Aug. 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm EDT
I am so proud of you, and recently diagnosed. I hope to become as strong as you. You're truly an inspiration.
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