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Remembering THE Moment

By Brian Ledford

November 5, 2013

I remember the moment I was told my test came back and the blood work showed that I had tested positive for HIV. At that moment time seemed to just stop, all I could hear was the sound of my heart beating like thunder in my head. I knew my Commanding Officer was still speaking to me but I really did not understand a word he was saying and not sure I even wanted to. I had a million thoughts racing through my head but the one that was shouting at me the loudest was "MY LIFE IS OVER, I AM GOING TO DIE."

The next few hours seem to be a blur, still to this day. I was taken to see our Squadron Flight Surgeon and the Squadron Chaplin. Everyone was trying to be supportive and comfort me the best they knew how, but I had shut down. I set quiet, not really paying attention to anything going on around me and only responsive when I was shaken out of the nightmare in my head by being asked a direct question. On several occasions I thought my body was going to just give out from under me due to the weight of the pain I was feeling inside, but it never did. I was still too numb to show the emotions that I was feeling while a war was being waged in my mind.

At some point during all of this a small voice in the back of my head, baerly noticable at first, started to get louder and louder. It was screaming at me "I AM A MARINE, I AM TRAINED TO FIGHT AND BE STRONG." It was then when I finally started listening to that voice and that one alone, that I woke up from the haze I had shrouded myself in. I started actually listening to what was going on around me for the first time. I heard them repeat multiple times that I was going to be alright. That was the first time I had felt like I might actually be alright.

The weeks that followed were full of doctors visits, blood test, training and other things to keep me busy so I would not sit and dwell on my situation. Nights were still hard, and I cried myself to sleep on multiple occassions but that soon played itself out as well. Everyday started to get better a little at a time, slowly at first and then more gradual. It took me awhile to get over my self pitty party and actually become thankful for each day.

Now nearing my 4 year anniversary I am much stronger than I was before any of this ever happened. I still have my down days but that is expected with anyone. If I feel like having a pitty party, fine I will have one. Then I am going to get my ass up and prepare to face the world once more. I will not let HIV rule my life, yes it is a big part of my life but it will not define me.

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