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My Life With HIV "Isn't a Happy Story"

Shannon Remembers the Day She Found Out She Was HIV Positive

January 3, 2014

Shannon C.

Shannon C.

I had been sick a lot. I was going to have gastric bypass surgery because of health problems. The doctor kept calling. I had shingles at the time. When I got better, I went in on May 11, 2012.

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! I went out and had every guy I had slept with in the last two years get tested. I was in denial.

I found out it was my boyfriend who was positive. I didn't know what to say, do or how to act. All I know is that my whole world came down crashing. My boyfriend was married and I was always loyal ... so of course I was confused. I have four kids, three grandbabies and a wonderful mother who has always stood by me. But really was it enough? My life was ruined.

This really isn't a happy story, because I am as devastated as I was when I found out. But just wanted to share. And recently, I found out I have TB, so it keeps getting worse. In all, I take 39 pills a day and don't really know my life expectancy. But I am trying to live it like it's my last.

Shannon is a woman living with disabilities in Fresno, Calif.

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 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.

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More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

This article was provided by TheBody.

Reader Comments:

Comment by: SEL (Los Angeles, CA) Tue., Jul. 14, 2015 at 11:32 pm UTC
Hello Shannon,
Thanks for sharing your story. It is a cautionary tale that I plan to heed. I am praying for you to be healed of ALL these disorders. In the mean time, take your medication and live and enjoy your life.
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Comment by: Brenda (Crowley) Thu., Oct. 16, 2014 at 2:05 pm UTC
I found out last Wednesday that my best friend has tested postive for Hiv. She got it from her x boyfriend. She was married for over 20 years. Her husband had a heart attack and passed away. She finally started dating 7 years after her husband died . She took things very slow. She told me that she felt like she was cheating on her husband, but she kept on dating this one guy. One year later they moved in with each other. Two years later, she caught him cheating and ended it. She has five amazing kids with her late husband. She's in her early 50 s. I don't know how to help her. I just cry. I hate Paul, her x. I want him to pay or tell his current girlfriend. I'm sooo angry! What can I do to help her?
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Comment by: Lisa (Pennsylvania ) Thu., Jan. 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm UTC
Thank you for sharing your story with us. That was brave, inspirational, and courageous. Much positive energy, love, and prayers to you.
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Comment by: Selene Spencer (Toronto) Thu., Jan. 23, 2014 at 1:40 am UTC
I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. That's horrible news. Do you know how long you have had it? Early treatment is very promising. I really hope the drug companies come up with a solution I really beleive a cure is out there but no one wants to think past profits.
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Comment by: Rudy (Moore) Fri., Jan. 17, 2014 at 9:45 am UTC
shannon sorry you're going through this I am a carrier of HIV knew eight months ago.
when I heard this, my life collapsed as yourself but hey take my atripla and low viral load and increase my cd4.
do not know in my house because of my situation and had no diseases that betray me, it's hard to think you're alone in this, but we must move forward, live, study, work as if nothing had happened
I send you a thousand hugs from Mexico!...
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Comment by: Sonia (Los Angeles) Mon., Jan. 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm UTC
Hi Shannon,
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It is natural to be devastated under those circumstances, but know you are not alon and sadly there are worse stories. You are so BLESSED to have a support group with your family and this wwebsite. I am standing in agreement with you that your viral load will be undetected and your other ailmets will go in remission. Keep your head up and your spirits high!

be Blessed!
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Comment by: Freddy (Oakland) Mon., Jan. 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm UTC
This is truly saddening, but it will get better. Of course these stories need to be heard. But is it just my imagination or does this website consistently post stories emphasizing how much worse life with HIV is than we would otherwise think? It appears that there's some kind of policy against complacence, which entails foisting this viewpoint that we're all supposedly suffering. It seems like there's a severe shortage of stories here telling us about people living vibrant, upbeat lives. Frankly, I've been doing well taking one pill a day, and I'm hardly alone, and at the same time I'll be the first to agree that stigma and other problems continue to plague us. But looking at this web site also gets me down because of the way the familiar old-time narrative of "down-and out" gets played over and over, in which people with HIV are stereotyped as needing to take 40-50 pills a day. I know that some people did indeed have that experience back in the day, but it would also be good to balance this more with inspiring, achievement-oriented stories to balance that narrative. I remember when one old timer with AIDS was going to high schools to convince kids how bad it still is, showing them the 40 pills that he takes a day. Maybe that was true for him, but that was false in my experience, and convincing youngsters how bad it is might have a larger worthy purpose, but in present-day conditions it is still selling an artificially enhanced projection about living with HIV. Unfortunately, acknowledging one's HIV status in the poz social world too often means we have to buy into the ideology of hardship to win acceptance into the culture, with stories of struggling with adherence, side affects, and so on. Come on, Poz--give us some attitudinal healing to balance the hard-luck narrative, not as denial of HIV, but in recognition that many people with HIV are also living well!
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Comment by: l (argentina) Sat., Jan. 4, 2014 at 9:48 pm UTC
Good luck Shanon, i hope everything will be better for you
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