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Personal story: Elizabeth

I am living my positive life positively

Woman smiles at the camera as she stands beside a graffitied building down the city streets.
Photo credit: ©iStock/FatCamera. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

"I had finally graduated from college, after years of working full-time and being a single mother. Then I met the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with. Six months after our first sexual encounter, I was taken to the emergency room with a high fever and spots all over my body. It was then that I was diagnosed.

I didn't handle the news well. I thought my life was over. The disease was still a mystery to me, and I worried that I had given the virus to my husband. I was terrified to tell him. What would I do if he left me? Who would love me? But I told him, and he took the news almost with an ‘oh well’ attitude.

I went to my follow up appointments, and I am grateful that I had kind and understanding doctors. I received a crash course in HIV and learned what it means to be undetectable. I also learned that my new husband had a very high load, which meant it was more likely he gave it to me. I was prepared to tell him our love would overcome it all. What I didn't expect was to find out later that he was already aware of his status long before we ever said, ‘I do’.

This news destroyed me.

Needless to say, our marriage ended, and I was now a single mother, positive and alone. I had moved to a new state, was working a part-time job, and struggling make ends meet. I was living in fear of someone finding out or worse of dying and leaving my son alone.

Eventually it was my faith that got me through. I decided this would not ruin me. I returned to my hometown, reconnected with family and friends, started seeing an amazing doctor and met an even more amazing man. He's negative and 11 years and two kids later, he still makes me glad I didn't give up on love.

I know there's still a ridiculous amount of misinformation and stigma around HIV. I've even experienced unprofessional behaviour from doctors, but I refuse to let it change who I am. I am living my positive life positively. There's so much more to life."

What we say

Elizabeth struggled to come to terms with her HIV-positive status at first but learning more about HIV helped her to understand her diagnosis and look after her health. With the right treatment, she was able to go on to live a healthy, fulfilling life and have a family.

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These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes and names have been changed to protect identities.

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  • Last updated: 14 November 2022
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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