James Nicacio, Selma, Calif.; Diagnosed in October 2001
What I would want to tell people who are newly diagnosed is that it's OK.
All the emotions that come up when you're first told that you're diagnosed are OK. Take it day by day. Everybody handles it a little differently. Some people are able to accept it and some people are not.
The most important thing would be to probably find somebody to talk to, whether it be a family member, a doctor, a nurse, a peer advocate. Talk to somebody, work through some issues, ask all the questions that come to your mind, educate yourself and really learn about what HIV is and learn about what you can do to stay healthy. This may mean making your doctor's appointments and taking your meds if you need to take your meds. Learn how important it is to stay adherent to your medications so that you can lead a full life.
Today, I can say I'm leading a full life. At first, when I was told I was HIV positive, I thought that I wasn't going to be able to have all the things that I wanted, I wasn't going to be able to get a good job, I wasn't going to be able to own a house, I wasn't going to be able to do all these things. Today, I can say that, yes, I can still have all of those things, living with HIV. I can have everything I ever wanted and lead the full life that I've always wanted to lead.