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Ask the Advocate: Would I Change How I Received My HIV Diagnosis?

Last updated: March 2021

Receiving an HIV diagnosis can bring an onslaught of emotions and questions. It can also be the start of processing what the future holds in living with a chronic condition.

HIV testers and counselors play such a critical role in relaying test results. They partly influence the relationship that a person has with their diagnosis, treatment, and HIV journey. So we asked community advocates for H-I-V.net: "If you could change how you were told about your status, would you? How?" Here are their responses!

How I received my HIV diagnosis

HIV community advocate Kamaria"I received my HIV diagnosis from my OB-GYN. I hadn’t had prenatal care, and when I delivered my daughter I had to be tested for everything. My daughter tested positive for HIV antibodies, which meant I was living with HIV. When I went into my physician’s office, she was gentle and compassionate. She gave me the time I needed to process, the option to tell my mother who came to the appointment with me, and then connected me to the next steps I’d need. She wasn’t affiliated with the health department and probably didn’t know that surveillance would occur and that would be my first experience with stigma. I later learned that I was the first person she had to give a positive diagnosis to. The only thing I’d honestly change is for providers to be more equipped with delivering that news and what happens to their patients afterward." - Kamaria

HIV community advocate Kalvin"I was given my diagnosis in a health department employee’s dirty van sitting in the parking lot of a coffee shop. Although unpleasant, I don’t think I would change it. I think it provided me with a stronger sense of empathy when I sit with others having their own difficult moments. That moment was defining; it gave me a point to rise from. Whenever I am having a tough day or am having trouble getting in my groove in the gym, I think about that exact moment and how broken I felt. It gives me perspective to feel gratitude for who I am today and all that I’ve accomplished because (not in spite) of that moment." - Kalvin

HIV community advocate Nicholas"Yes. I was told over the phone by a nurse at a private practice that had never had a case of HIV. She told me as though I were dying, as though there was no hope. She wished me well and asked me not to come back to their clinic because they didn't work with HIV and didn't want to risk exposure. Really, anything would have been better than what I got in terms of support while being told my diagnosis." - Nicholas

HIV community advocate Dee"I wouldn't change how I was told because it was a blessing that I found out. But I would have changed how I was not given any information on HIV or where to go to get help. I had to look for an HIV clinic on my own, and it took me 3 months." - Dee

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The H-I-V.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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