Posted: April 2011
"I'm a 31-year-old transsexual woman living in rural Arkansas with my boyfriend of five years. I enjoy dancing and music, and I really like photography. I am disabled and on SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Right now I'm just learning to live with HIV."
On 12/10/10 I tested positive for HIV.
A little back story first.
My name is Autumn. I am a transgender woman living in rural Arkansas. I'm NOT, nor have I ever been a sex worker, escort or anything of the sort. I don't use IV drugs and I'm not promiscuous. Just the recipient of a shit storm of bad luck.
I have given up trying to find out how I became positive. At this point it doesn't really matter.
My boyfriend, who shall remain nameless, gets his test results tomorrow.
The day of the 10th was like no other day in my entire life.
I got a call from the nurse who gave me the blood test asking me to come in to get the results. I found that sort of odd because when I was there having the tests done they told me that no news was good news and if they didn't call it probably wouldn't be anything to worry about. That was the first red flag.
I decided to have my mom go with me. We were both worried due to the odd way things were handled. Well, my appointment was at 9 a.m. so we got there 15 minutes early, just to be punctual. We sat there and waited 45 -- yes 45 -- minutes before they finally called me back. When we got to the back the nurse practitioner ushered us into a room with a strange man I had never met. He introduced himself as a disease-intervention specialist. It was at that point that my heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach.
I knew something was wrong with one of the tests. At this point I still hadn't considered it might be HIV. They had given me the regular STD work-up so I was expecting something, but definitely not what came next.
He told me about all of my results, reading off each one and telling me they were negative. I started to kind of chuckle to myself thinking I had been worried for nothing and he must speak with all the patients who get STD tests. It was then that he came to my HIV results. He stared at me matter-of-factly and blurted out that I tested positive for HIV. I felt like in those few words that he ended my life.
My mother and I both broke down in sobs. My worst fears had come true. I can't even begin to describe the magnitude of emotions I was feeling, so I'm not even going to try.
The man spoke to us a little more about the test itself, about the need to see a doctor soon and the like. He gave me a referral to an HIV specialist "near" my area. I promised to make an appointment with him and left the office.
I was lucky to have my mother there. I'm lucky to have such a caring boyfriend. My boyfriend came home from work and we all sat and talked about it. I'm so grateful for that. I think had I gone through it alone, I wouldn't have been able to cope.
Three days after testing positive I made an appointment with the HIV specialist.
They took a lot of information over the phone and gave me an appointment for January 19th. I was SHOCKED! A whole month before I would know anything.
That's what I've been doing since last Monday, waiting for the packet they're supposed to send and praying that I make it through all of this OK.
I'll add more soon.