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Personal story: Ryan

I’ve learned to love myself more

Young man laughing at home
Photo credit: ©iStock/FG Trade. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

"I am Ryan, and I am an amateur x-tuber. I started posting videos in 2011. People all over were starting to send me messages, sending requests, demanding to see more of what I could do. From then on, I was receiving invites for meet-ups, hook-ups, dates. At first, I did not entertain it, because I was still happy doing it on my own.

But a member caught my attention and invited me out. It was February 2012, a few days before Valentine’s Day. We talked for a while, went to his place, and there it happened - my very first sex. It was bareback. I knew the facts and the risk of getting infected even just by doing it the first time. But I didn't take it seriously.

A few weeks later, I got sick, and was in the hospital for a week. At first, I thought it was nothing serious, I was on a leave of absence for like 2 months so I could rest well and get back into shape. But when I got back to work, people noticed that I started to lose weight. I didn’t mind it, but then I started getting coughs and colds quite easily, which lasted for months. I was also experiencing night sweats, some swollen lymph nodes behind my ears and on my neck, as well as a prolonged fever. I knew something was wrong. Then I started reading all over the internet about common signs and symptoms of HIV. Still praying that I didn’t have it.

My doctor suggested I go for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV. I met my counsellor who conducted the pre- and post-test counselling for me. We waited for two weeks to get the confirmatory result. While resting at home, I got a call from her, and she told me that they had gotten the results.

We talked for a while before opening the letter. She handed it to me, and still I’m praying, even though I already knew the result. As expected, the result was positive. I felt numbness all over my body – then I started crying. I thought it was the end, I felt so much devastation. The councillor called my mom and gave us time to talk. I handed the results to my mom, seeing my mom crying while reading the result, it tore me apart.

I was in a state of melancholia for couple of days. My condition got worse. I suffered mitral valve prolapse and pneumonia. I thought my days were already over. I sought help and started treatment.

After a few months, I was recovering little by little. I was able to go back to work, and now I can say that I’m getting better. A friend once told me: "You learned your lesson, the hardest way! But I’m happy that you're coping."

I don’t take what happened to me negatively, it won’t do me any good for my health. But moving forward, I’ve learned to love myself more. I’ve learned who my true friends are, and most especially, I’m happy with the love and support that I’m getting from my friends and fellow people living with HIV. There is always a life after an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Don't forget what happened to you in your past, cherish it, and learn from it. Do not regret what happened. It may not be easy. I know, but for all we know this will always serve as a reminder to live our life to the fullest."

What we say

Like Ryan says, there is life after learning you are HIV-positive, even if it may be hard to see in the beginning. Ryan has had a very healthy, positive mentality since his diagnosis. For more information, see our pages on living with HIV.

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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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