Day One With HIV: "24 Years Later, I'm Here!"

Robert Toth
Robert Toth

The day was dark, drizzly and dreary. A cold October day. Settling into the waiting room at the Public Health Center under the nom de plume "George Bush," I was somewhat nervous.

Two previous HIV tests had come back negative. I'd had a serious "event" a month or so before. Projectile vomiting, drenching sweats, chills. I "knew" something wasn't right and it wasn't strep throat.

Yet, when I heard: "Your results came back positive for HIV" -- my mind went numb. The counselor was talking. All I heard was the blah-blah-blah like the teacher in "Peanuts."

I put up my hand for silence. I understood. I was a Buddy Volunteer. I'd helped guys change their partners' diapers. I've "been there"; now, I felt as if I was going to BE THERE.

Twenty-four years later, I'm here!

From Robert: "I was 'given' a two-year survival time-line when I was diagnosed. I have since survived being held up at gunpoint and shot at, cancer, a stroke and a massive car accident, and traveling alone to Paris and Budapest. Now, I'm almost a 'senior citizen living with AIDS,' something unheard of when I tested positive 24 years ago. Life keeps happening. My Path unfolds."

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.