How My Life Changed From One Phone Call

I tested positive for HIV in 2007, and received the news by means of a phone call while I was sitting with a client. I’m a financial professional, happily married, middle-class home in the suburbs. I come from a good family and had a strict religious upbringing. In short, I think my own preconceived notions of HIV+ people did not include myself. I’m ashamed now of my ignorance then.

Routine blood test

I had some blood testing for a life insurance policy I was going to buy. My wife’s results came back fine but we heard nothing about mine. A few days later, my physician’s office called and asked if I had a moment to talk, preferably in his office. As it was a workday and I was meeting with a client, I asked what this pertains too, although I was immediately in a panic. Not being the most patient person in the world, and envisioning all sorts of terrible things, I wanted to know right away what the tests had revealed. I was assuming most likely some form of cancer but whatever it was I needed to know. Now.

Initial shock of an HIV diagnosis

When he told me my test for HIV had shown as positive, my entire life changed in a moment. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. In fact, it was such a shock I literally fainted. I’ll spare the details but you get the idea.

Finding an infectious disease doctor

Fortunately, after an initial period of trial and error, I found an ID doctor I was comfortable with and I've been able to maintain an undetectable status. Eventually, I learned that life does go on, never the same but it's not the end of the world as I thought it would be. I wish everyone receiving the news for the first time could have that reassurance.

Stigma and HIV

I think it’s important to get the word out to the general population that HIV is not the death sentence anymore that it used to be, and it’s not just the people who they may think somehow “deserve” it due to their lifestyle. Hopefully, forums such as this will chip away at the ignorance and help destigmatize this disease, at the same time giving us comfort that we are not alone.

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