May 24, 2013
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. Being told you have HIV in a mental hospital is not the easiest place to receive such news. I knew that from that point, I needed support from my family and friends.
I called my brother to tell him, and I received a phone call from my parents later that night. They only reassured their love for me, and that they would be there for me as I started this difficult journey.
I admit, it has not been the easiest, but it has made me a stronger person. The first day of consciously living as an HIV+ man was hard, but each day, as I talked to others, as I sought out support from others around me, and connected myself with community resources, I can say it has gotten easier. There were some rough spots, but each time, I was able to get through them. With each step I took, I felt I was taking charge of my disease. Every doctor visit, every blood draw, every conversation I had with my case nurse and doctor made me feel empowered that I was doing something to combat this.
I now can say that after just two months of treatment, I went from a viral load of 144,000 to 220, and a CD4 count of 227 to 496. It's a commitment every day to my health, but it's one that is worth taking. I am still new at the game, but it's a game that can be played, and played well.
Kyle Martin is a 21-year-old living in northern California. Currently finishing up his school work in English, Kyle hopes to one day become an English professor and writer.
Want to share your own "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 firstname.lastname@example.org. In the coming months, we'll be posting readers' "Day One" stories here in our HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed. Read other stories in this series.