Robert Williams III, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, Oakland, Calif.
That's a tough one for me. A good friend of mine was diagnosed a couple of years ago and I went with him to get his test. At the time that he got the test, we were sitting in the lobby of the testing place and he had received his diagnosis. He didn't say anything to me, so we got through it and, me just being me, assuming that the test came out negative, we left the place. I was like, "OK, do you want to stop somewhere and get something to eat or just hang out?" I didn't ever really think to ask him the result of the test. When he told me that the test was positive, it kind of blew me away.
We just stopped right there where we were. I said, "We'll stop, because I can't move right now. I don't know what's going on with you. For me, that's really profound that you've just tested HIV positive." I'd never been with anybody when they tested positive before. We went back to the car and he had a real good cry.
If a friend of yours tells you that they're positive, I don't think that there's necessarily anything that you need to say to them. Just continue to be a friend. If they need a shoulder to cry on, be that shoulder to cry on. If they need somebody to talk to, be that person that they can talk to. If they don't want to be bothered with it, don't want to discuss it, be OK with just still continuing to be their friend. I think people always need friends in the world.