Personal story: Jordan
As much as I have come a long way since finding out that I was positive, I still have a long way to go
"My name is Jordan and I'm HIV positive. I found out June 27th, 2014.
I had gotten sick the week prior to me finding out my status. It wasn't just a common cold that goes away with over-the-counter medicine. I had to be hospitalised because my body wasn't fighting for itself. My mom stayed with me in the hospital and after multiple doctors couldn't tell me what was wrong with me, my mother brought up that I should get tested for any STD's. On the 27th, I had an appointment to find out the results of all the blood work they had done. Earlier to my appointment, my boyfriend at the time and myself had unprotected sex. This was also the day we were going to leave for San Francisco Pride.
I don't really remember much about the day or the month or two following... I remember looking at the painting on the wall straight ahead as I sat in my doctor’s office. I think there was a tree in it. My vision was blurred by the tears that ran down my face. I didn't burst out into tears, surprisingly enough for me. I became instantly numb, and everything became a blur. My parents and boyfriend were all in the room when I found out my status. I looked into my mom’s eyes, as I still do and felt guilty. Guilty that the bad decisions I had made now were affecting the people who love me the most. That my selfishness for instant pleasure was more important to me than the longevity of life and my well-being.
We left the hospital and went to Pride still. I thought it would be good to be around the gay community, many who probably are going through the same thing as I was. I also figured I could find a lot of information about it and start informing myself. We got home and my mom told me she had contacted a specialist that I could go to that focusses on infectious diseases. My specialist told me my viral load was at 888,000 and my white blood cell count was 7. These number didn't mean much to me. So of course, I googled it once I got home and then that's when it hit me how much it was already affecting my body.
When you first find out, so many things run through your head. Where could I have gotten this from? How long have I had it? Have I given it to other people? I reached out to all my sexual partners from the last four years, and nobody said, they were positive. Someone is lying. I guess I like it better that way anyway. That I don't know who gave it to me. I don't want to hold any resentment or anger towards someone. It is my fault and mine alone.
About two months after my first visit with the specialist I started taking Atripla. One pill, every day, for the rest of my life. At first, the side effects were horrible. I took it before I went to sleep at night. But I had horrible nightmares and would wake up the following morning feeling hot and confused, with blurred vision. I also had this irrational fear that I would forget to take my medicine and ruin the whole process. So, I switched to taking it in the morning which I still do to this day. The side effects have waned, other than the occasional dizziness or feeling flush, depending on if I ate right before or afterwards.
Three months after I found I had HIV, my boyfriend broke up with me and we moved out of our apartment. Before moving back with my parents, I stayed at his parents’ house for a couple weeks, just until I figured everything out. I hadn't really experienced any negativity from anyone who found out my status. My ex-husband decided to take it upon himself to inform my ex’s parents about my status and they told me that I could no longer live with them because they didn't want to be affected by such a horrible disease. So, I moved in with my parents. They have been nothing less than supportive and helpful through this entire time. They bought a ton of books about HIV and informed themselves as much as they possibly could about prevention and nutrition and how to help physically and emotionally. I am forever grateful to have their unwavering support and unconditional love.
Even so, I have another irrational fear that I live with constantly – that I am going to be alone forever. That I'm not going to find someone who wants to be in a relationship with someone who has HIV. I tried to get back into the dating scene. There was one boy who I was head over heels for. I told him about a month into us getting more serious. I didn't want to be ‘in the moment’ and have to tell him about it. He cried and held me and told me that he's just happy I'm healthy and thanked me for being so honest. But soon after we stopped talking. It has been hard getting back out there. I am extremely honest and open about my status with others. I am not promiscuous, for fear of giving someone HIV.
As much as I have come a long way since finding out that I was positive, I still have a long way to go before I can say that I'm truly happy and dealing with it in the correct manner. This website has helped out so much and I’m extremely happy to open up and share my story."
What we say
Learning to live with HIV is a journey – but once you know your status you can start treatment and live a long and healthy life like anyone else. Getting support from friends, family or loved ones, as Jordan has, can also help you stay positive.
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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.