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I found out I was HIV + on March 26th, 2007. I’d been to the doctor the week before with an infection and she asked when my last HIV test had been. Since it had been over a year she tested me that day. I didn’t think too much about it since I’d been tested many times over the years and had always come back negative. I traveled to a work conference the following Monday and when My plane landed I had a voicemail from the nurse. It said to please call back as soon as possible - the doctor needed to speak to me. This was an immediate punch to the gut as I knew there was no other reason for such an urgent message. I called the next day and heard the news I’d avoided for years.
I’d been an HIV education advocate and organized AIDS fundraisers and now here I was testing positive. I’d also struggled with addiction and made choices that were not in my best interest. I thought I was invincible...or at least lucky. I honestly don’t know who transmitted the virus to me and ultimately it doesn’t matter. I made the choices. But it is a virus and not a moral judgement or punishment. We don’t vilify people who pass on their cold to us...and even as we try to avoid it, sometimes we make choices that increase our risk.
That said, I’m so very grateful that this is no longer a terminal disease if managed with medication. I’m thankful to the men and women who fought hard and died for the privilege I have to be alive. I am lucky. I have good insurance, a good job, great friends and an awesome boyfriend. Many people, though, are not as lucky. They still need support. Medication isn’t cheap and the virus is still extremely deadly when not treated with life-saving drugs. Also, with PrEP we now have a real path to ending HIV transmission. But we still need donations to make that a reality.
Please give what you can and help me (us) put and end to HIV.