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Day One With HIV: Finding Out Your Status, in Your Own Words

Regardless of where or how it happened, the day you received your HIV-positive diagnosis was likely among the most intense days you'll ever live through. Some of TheBody.com's readers have generously shared their experiences -- to reflect on how they've changed, and so that others would know that they too can survive, and even thrive, following that fateful day.

How did you get through it? Want to share your "Day One With HIV" story of finding out your diagnosis? Write out your story (1,000 words or fewer, please!), or film a YouTube video, and email it to mrodriguez@thebody.com. In the coming months, we'll be posting readers' "Day One" stories here in our HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed.

On Denial After an HIV Diagnosis On Denial After an HIV Diagnosis (Posted April 1, 2014)
By William

I knew full well I was positive all along, from the early 80s. Two of my former partners were quite ill and I wondered how it could not have affected me. I had essentially stopped having sex after their diagnosis. Then two years later, safe sex. So, from this, I determined it had to be the early 80s.

This led to drug and alcohol abuse. I was assuming I was going to be dead shortly.

R. Craig Stringer Nightlight: On My HIV Diagnosis and Crystal Meth (Posted March 17, 2014)
By R. Craig Stringer

In 1984, testing positive was a death sentence. When I finally did make it into the office, someone, some counselor or caseworker provided my prognosis. "Let's see, you're 21, so that means, approximately 8 years. So you could live to see 30!"

Shannon C. My Life With HIV "Isn't a Happy Story" (Posted January 3, 2014)
By Shannon C.

They had called the health department; they were in the office waiting for me. The doctor came in and asked if I knew I had HIV. I said no, so they talked to me about it, and I burst out hysterically crying. I was devastated!

Daniel Mark Hall "I'd Always Practiced Safer Sex -- For the Most Part" (Posted November 1, 2013)
By Daniel Mark Hall

We sat down for our results, and the two volunteers gave my partner his results first. "Adam" (not his real name), they said -- "your results came back negative, you do not have HIV." What seemed like an hour passed, as the volunteers started shuffling papers and getting some brochures ready to I assume hand me, something they did not do prior to giving my partner his results.

'I Learned the Hard Way About HIV Disclosure' "I Learned the Hard Way About HIV Disclosure" (Posted October 15, 2013)
By Debbie Gaspar

I am at work in my government job. I took my test two weeks ago. My doctor calls to tell me that I have tested positive. Then he says come into my office now so we can talk. I am crying; it is April of 1990. I have no idea what this means for me.

Tom "Love Made My First Day With HIV a Happy Memory" (Posted September 19, 2013)
By Tom

I felt no different. I wasn't sick. I didn't need treatment. I wasn't sad. I was just unsure about what the future would hold for me, for our relationship, for our sex life.

Rita Botha "Blessed With an Empathetic HIV Doctor" in the 1980s (Posted August 1, 2013)
By Rita Botha

There is not much to be said for a normal mid-suburban girl finding the man of her dreams, marrying him at age 21 and having two beautiful daughters by age 28. Except that is me, and that was my life. Until something very unexpected came and turned that life upside-down.

My husband of 10 years was always a very handsome, lean man and the loss of a couple of pounds went unnoticed. Until he got sick.

'The Most Agonizing Wait in My Life' "The Most Agonizing Wait in My Life" (Posted July 16, 2013)
By Matong

The day of reckoning was on 28 January 2008. We laid my wife to rest on 22 January 2008. I had been grief-stricken and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I turned to alcohol for solace. I had been unable to deal with the intensity of my feelings. Sooner or later I had come to the grim realization that I had to make the informed choice of testing for HIV. It had slowly struck me that you can run away from HIV infection, but you cannot hide from it.

Mikey Barnum "I Learned How Much People Can Care for Each Other" (Posted June 29, 2013)
By Mikey Barnum

I had gotten sick. Very sick. I had a high fever, I had night sweats so bad that I woke up with soaked sheets, and even worse, no appetite. I wasn't stupid. I was well-read on the issues and knew what it meant and what it was like when someone contracted HIV. I prayed to God that I was wrong, but in my heart I knew what was happening: I was seroconverting in a bad way.

Anuoluwapo "Perhaps It Was Time to Give Up" (Posted June 29, 2013)
By Gregory Fowler

Rather than talk now about my Day One Story, I thought I would share my personal journal entry from that day:

April 18, 1988

The end of a long day. What else can I say about it? I turned 30 years old. It's suppose to be one of those traumatic experiences, right? People at work must have thought I was taking it particularly bad. Who could I talk to? Was there anyone who could understand -- when you get to the point that you feel you whole life had ended ... and the mere fact of turning 30 is the least important thing you can think of. I thought of postponing my appointment. Something about going to find the result of my HIV test on my birthday seemed a little bit too dramatic. It was like a bad television movie. If the results were negative, I knew it would open up the rest of my life to me. I felt like it might even be a new beginning.

Anuoluwapo "I Had to Give My Baby a Chance at HIV-Free Life" (Posted June 13, 2013)
By Anuoluwapo

My first day with the virus was the 27th of December, 2007. I was supposed to have my baby on the 13th of December, but no sign of dilation or contraction.

I visited the hospital on the 27th of December and I was told I couldn't have my baby alone, only with a C-section to save his life.

Harold Scott "Not Leukemia, but Something Far More Shocking" (Posted June 13, 2013)
By Harold Scott

The day was a crisp, middle-Tennessee, autumn day.

I was at work at a local manufacturing company, in my small hometown of less than 1,000 residents. The week prior, I had traveled into Nashville, Tenn., to see an oncologist, because it was thought I may have leukemia, because of the symptoms I had been having for the past several weeks.

The day was Thursday, October 24, 1991. The time was 11:07 a.m.

Robert Toth "24 Years Later, I'm Here!" (Posted May 31, 2013)
By Robert Toth

The day was dark, drizzly and dreary. A cold October day. Settling into the waiting room at the Public Health Center under the nom de plume "George Bush," I was somewhat nervous.

Two previous HIV tests had come back negative. I'd had a serious "event" a month or so before. Projectile vomiting, drenching sweats, chills. I "knew" something wasn't right and it wasn't strep throat.

Bob Clark "'Mad' Wasn't the Word That Came to Mind" (Posted May 29, 2013)
By Bob Clark

One day in May 1989, my partner came home and told me he had both HIV and AIDS. In one moment, my life changed forever. I was tested and found to be negative -- until February 1992 when I visited the doctor for a urinary infection and was asked if I wanted an HIV test. I said no as I was having it done elsewhere anonymously.

Kyle Martin "I Needed Support From My Family and Friends" (Posted May 24, 2013)
By Kyle Martin

For me, finding out I had HIV was one of the worst days of my entire life. Here I was, 21 years old, admitted to a mental hospital for suicidal thoughts, and when I felt like I was on a somewhat steady path to stability, I get called into a room with a psychiatrist to tell me I was HIV positive.

I had a huge gamut of emotions ranging from sadness, to hopelessness, to regret, to depression. I will admit, I slipped into a heavy breakdown.

Patrick Ingram "A Shadow Came Over My Head" (Videos) (Posted May 23, 2013)
By Patrick Ingram

Getting the news was the worst news so far in my then 22 years living on this earth, that was the worst news I've received in my life. I've had family members pass away, I've failed at dreams that I've had, but finding out I was HIV positive was the worst moment of my life.

The second-worst moment was having to call my partner, who was at work, drag him out of work, and call him and give him the news.

Jason McDonald "Coming Out of the Second Closet" (Posted May 1, 2013)
By Jason McDonald

I am ashamed to admit that I, like so many gay men, buried my head in the sand when it came to HIV. Like many in the gay community, I too had become fatigued with hearing about safe sex, HIV, AIDS, etc. I subconsciously, but purposely, avoided taking an HIV test, because I wanted to live the illusion that my IV meth use and the activity that goes along with that lifestyle would have no consequences to my health. And HIV was the unspoken pink elephant in the room amongst modern gay guys. The only time HIV was ever mentioned was when gossip and speculation over someone's status became the topic of the moment.

Erin Gingrich "I Had Never Actually Met Anyone Who Was Positive" (Posted April 28, 2013)
By Erin Gingrich

March 16, 2010. I remember it so vividly. I was in an in-patient drug treatment facility, 21 days sober and angry at everyone. When I got the news that my HIV test was confirmed positive, I thought I was receiving my death sentence. I now know, that was actually the moment I was blessed with a new life.

I grew up quite sheltered, in the small farming and military town of Yuma, Arizona. When the AIDS epidemic first surfaced in the early '80s, the terror of the disease was my biggest fear. I stayed out of trouble as a child, was a gifted classical pianist and had hopes and dreams of making my mark in the world.

Gina Marie Brown 19 Years Ago Today, "I Was Given What I Thought Was a Death Sentence" (Posted April 4, 2013)
By Gina Marie Brown

On this day in 1994 ... I walked into Charity Hospital's obstetric clinic, made my way to the nurse's office, and immediately knew something wasn't right; she wouldn't look at me. And then she said, "You have AIDS and you're going to die."

It was devastating, embarrassing, and heartbreaking. I'd finally gotten my life on track. I was so afraid of dying AND of having anyone find out my HIV status. I told my mother, sisters, and my children's father ... and no one else. I was also afraid because I was pregnant at this time.


Related Stories

Read more personal accounts of being diagnosed with HIV.
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS



This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

Reader Comments:

Comment by: vicky kennamer (Birmingham al.) Fri., Feb. 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm EST
The day I found out 2004 the doctor office call me on my cell phone.the news shock me to point of wanted end my life. A death sentence any way. However; I called the aids hot line. They really helped me to under stand with the new medicine I could live a longtime. No insurance? What do I do? A chastity hospital saved my life. At 42,now I am 54 and I am still here. God willing after all, he brought in this world, Its his decision when I go. Women don't get this. I only had sex with men but I did not use protection I from the seventies. Free love rock n roll. Boy was I dumb, Its just a gay disease, I don't use needles, however; my partner did. He also knew he had Hiv,He never told me . I could have used protection. I went seven years not knowing until I had aids. Yes upset mad! This virus told my career I had to quit my job. Wait on divinity for two years. I am so thankful for Ryan White.I made it. May I live to see a cure .
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Comment by: Tai (Sydney) Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at 1:29 am EST
I find these stories are brave and inspiring. HIV is an illness that can wreck havoc in people's lives but it's encouraging to see modern medicine really pave way for health and longevity.

I hope for the sake of others and yourself, that people get checked up. It's just not fair on yourself or your partners to be in the dark about your status. Even if diagnosed as positive, there is help.

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Comment by: Anthony Tue., Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:04 pm EST
The day I found out is one I will never forget. It was 7:45pm at night. The day before 9/11. I think I was mostly in shock that I had gotten it because I felt young and invincible. That day changed my life from drugs and alcohol to one of sobriety and pursuing the dreams of my childhood. Today I am in a loving and health relationship. My partner is my best friend, confidant, and makes me smile and laugh. I have to admit if I had still been negative I might not be alive. That doesn't mean that living with HIV is easy because it is not a walk in the park. There are times that I feel physically and mentally tired from the fight. But I know that if I continue there will be and has been others I have reached out my hand to assist. That day changed me, my outlook on life, and the direction I was taking it.
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Comment by: IB (New York, NY ) Mon., Dec. 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm EST
I am currently going trough what I believe to be my "seroconverting" process. I got tested early today and picking up my results tomorrow. I am very certain that "it will happen", I am nervous, sick, heartbroken and disappointed at myself, because I had plenty of warnings but kept going, kept pushing it and now "it will happen". I don't know what to do next, I am so confused, I am afraid. I have just applied for graduate school at a foreign country but I don't think I will be allow to move there if I am Poz.. :(
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Comment by: unknown (SOUTH AFRICA) Thu., Oct. 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm EDT
Im TOO SCARED TO TELL ANYONE ABOUT MY STATURES BECAUSE I DON'T know how they are going to react ,im saying this because i dont keep friends ,always in doors and im away from my family because of work
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Comment by: Wendy Robinson (Ontario, California) Sat., Aug. 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm EDT
My Granddaughter was told she was HIV positive when she went to her baby doctor. From the day she came home and told us she has never been the same. She had a little girl 1 year ago and she is now hiv free. My granddaughter will not take her meds, I cannot make her take them she is 24 yrs. old. I can tell that she is waiting to die. She has not wanted to get too close to her baby. She loves her for sure but she really feels she will die soon. She took the meds for a while, then she quit for about 1 year, then she tried to take them again and quit and again and quit. Now it has been at least a year or so and she is still not taking the meds. How can I help her, she lives with us and her baby as well. Please help me help her. She is a beautiful 24 year old who does absolutely nothing and is just waiting to die. Please help us. Thank you Wendy a very concerned Grandmother
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Comment by: dolores lucas (san francisco) Thu., Aug. 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm EDT
i like to tell my story how i got the hiv and have and baby was sick was take blood very to see it baby will be sick she was luck it was the 1989 i got afer she was 7 mouth old, the baby was get test very time she see the doc, mayby i got c to take baby out.
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Comment by: Anonymous (Boston, MA) Sat., Jul. 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm EDT
For 10 years I have been crying, when I learned my only daughter who was 17 at the time came to me crying, she learned she was HIV positive, having lost my first born a still birth, I prayed to God for another baby just like the first one I lost.
And now I'm losing my second baby, I died that day when she told me she was HIV positive, and I blamed even though I was married and divorced, she was my reason for living. I stopped living because I can't find a reason to live, I don't see happiness, I don't see humanity anymore, because what I loved and cherished te most my breath of life, is dieing slowly, and so I too choose to die, even though I am alive, but not alive.
I can't find me anymore, I don't care about me anymore, all I want is to close my eyes and see my child whole again as she was when she was healthy, I can't accept this, I'm lost. I refuse to have a man or remarry because my baby is alone, without the longevity in life she is deserving of. I pray everyday for God to please heal my child, or take me and let her live, because I can't live if she can't live too. She gave birth to my first grand baby she is 3 years old, and I cry because of the innocence and pure love she has for her Mom, unaware that her Mom is sick. I look at my child and I don't see my baby, because the illness has such a decaying effect on her face, I have lost my strength and my will to live but she doesn't and I will never reveal this to her because I just want to see her happy, to see her smile, and observe the precious moments loving her baby, my grand baby. I love my child and I question God, why did you allow this to happen to my child, my only baby, and I can't conceive anymore, I hated God for not protecting my child, and I question God's existence,and I have loved and worshiped God all my life, and he stood by and did nothing to protect my child from a premature death. I still pray that there is a cure for HIV, and I believe there is, but they refuse to market the cure.
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