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Personal story: James

Today I know that HIV lives and grows off fear

Portrait of a happy young man at home
Photo credit: ©iStock/FG Trade. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

"I used to think that HIV was something that only happened to other people, since being diagnosed I’ve realised that that is not the case. It’s been almost 10 years since I found out that I have HIV, but now I can finally say that testing positive for HIV was not the end, but only the beginning of a bigger journey and chapter of my life.

It all started when a colleague came to me in tears. She told me that she had unprotected sex with someone she hardly knew. She asked me if I would go with her to be tested as she was scared to go on her own. I’d only ever been in a monogamous relationship but had another short fling with my good friend – so I thought I had nothing to worry about. I agreed and off we went. We were thrilled when her result came back negative and shocked beyond belief that mine came back positive.

I can’t find words to describe the thoughts, the emotions that ran through my mind, my heart, and my soul. I was depressed and confused, broken into pieces that took me nearly ten years to pick up and put together again.

The first person I confided in was my best friend Victoria and she has supported me throughout my journey.  I also told my last sex-partner (a fling I had after my 3-year relationship) - he also got tested and tested positive. It’s so strange how these things happen; if I hadn’t gone with my colleague to be tested, I could have spent years without knowing. I think I was lucky to have found out about my status as soon as I did. At the time “the good news” (as the doctor described it) was that my CD4 count was 550. I was relieved but still had so many questions. Most importantly: “would I still be able to have my own kids one day?” as I always wanted to have children. After doing research I discovered that with careful management, and a doctor’s involvement, becoming a dad was still possible. Another worry on my mind: “would I ever be able to have another relationship?” But now I know that those who don’t accept you, need to go and accept themselves first.

Today I know that HIV lives and grows off fear. The fear of rejection, the fear of not being accepted, the fear of not living a long healthy life, of not achieving dreams. So, people stay silent. I want to stop feeding this Virus with fear … I want people to start feeding HIV with “HOPE” instead.

Now, my goal now is to strive, seek and find more Positive Heroes and not to yield. Being positive is now the most positive thing in my life."

What we say

Testing positive can raise a lot of questions and you might be worried that you aren’t going to be able to do a lot of the things that you had planned. But as James showed, having HIV doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your dreams. Effective treatment can keep you healthy, so you can do what you had always planned. It could be the start of another great chapter in your life, as it was for James. So don’t let the fear put you off, take control of your future by testing for HIV.

Do you have your own story to tell? Click the link to share it with us!

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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