This is my story, I am Joshua Middleton, and I am HIV +.

My name is Josh and I was diagnosed HIV + on June 5, 2012. At this moment I had already been through a very trying time of my life. I had survived death twice with separate issues regarding my leg, including necrotizing fasciitis and suffering from septic shock after a surgery where my kidneys began to shut down. After my second surgery I was hospitalized over 30 times in a two-year period due to reoccurring cellulitis in my left leg. For someone as young as I was, I shouldn’t have been having all of these issues. I found myself in the hospital setting almost every month being poked and prodded like cattle.

In January of 2012 I found out that my girlfriend of almost two years from Tijuana, Mexico was cheating on me again after I had given her a chance to change. I started to really stress about things but knew deep down inside it was not going to work out. I thought she was the “one” from the magic fairy tales that we all hear so much about as kids however this was not the case. We were attempting to have a kid together because we thought this would “solve” the situation. After I found out she had cheated the second time with a cousin of a non blood uncle, it really hurt me deep inside. I had grown so close with her family over the years and even though I knew it was the right thing to do to break up, I didn’t want to accept mentally or emotionally what was happening.

We broke up shortly after and I began to search for the closure I was looking for in that part of my life. I began to party, going out with friends to have a good time, and in the end got more than I bargained for. I was constantly having sexual relations with females I had barely just met that night or known for a very short period of time. Sometimes when I would have sex with these girls I would meet, protection would not be a major priority. I was also going down to the legally ran brothels in Tijuana not because I wanted to find love or a relationship, but because of how my last relationship had ended I started to equate caring with sex. I always used protection while down there however it just goes to show how my life was spiraling out of control due to the simple fact that I couldn’t get over a relationship.

I had met my ex while doing missionary work in Tijuana and also while I found my passion for language. The fact that I knew her for over 7 years along with her family did not help the situation. I was broken inside and in my mind was trying to repair the situation and move forward.

In May of 2012 I started to get symptoms of pink eye which for myself was normal as I work in bail bonds and am constantly entering in/out of the jails. I wet to an appointment with my primary care provider and while I was there, also requested an HIV test. I had tested negative in November of 2011 without knowing because the test was ordered during one of my hospital stays. I thought to myself it had been awhile since I had been checked and due to my ex cheating (not knowing if she had used protection) as well as the one night stands I had after we broke up on top of recently having received a tattoo, I decided to get tested as a “just in case” type measure. Everything was normal and they took my blood, said they would call me in a couple of days with the results, and I left. I never received a call back which I found odd however figured they had simply forgotten.

On June 5th I had an appointment set up with my infectious disease doctor to follow-up with the issues regarding my leg. Since the two clinics are connected under the same network, they are allowed to share information with each other, and my P.C. had called my ID to inform him of my results and pass along the information. We went over the issues with my leg and how I was progressing which is when he told me he knew I took an HIV test with my primary care doc the week prior and didn’t I find it odd that he didn’t call me back. I then thanked him saying I had forgotten all about it and would call my doctor after I got out of the appointment to find out the results as I figured they had forgotten to contact me. That is when he told me that he had the results and they didn’t turn out so good. I thought to myself well how did they not turn out good ? Could they not read the blood and I would need to go for another test or what exactly was the issue? He then said “Josh, I am sorry but you came out HIV +”.

I sat there in disbelief, stared at the wall for a couple of minutes trying to escape the news I was receiving, and when it finally hit me what he was telling me, I broke down into a river of tears. He explained to me about treatment and how medically advanced we are now compared to the 80′s, assuring me that treatment would allow me to live a long and healthy life. Everything he said went in one ear and out of the other. He then started to ask me about my relationships within the past 6 months and how to protect others from myself and the virus that was now living within my body. I then went to get the confirmatory western blot test and I was in complete shock. The nurse asked me why I was crying so much and when I told her I came out positive she just stated how sorry she was. I had to sit down for 15 minutes after and drink some orange juice so I wouldn’t get up and collapse.

I began to drive to work as I was scheduled at 2 pm. I was in complete shock of what had happened. I wanted to crash the car the whole way and say goodbye to this world but luckily something inside me told me not to do it. It was the hardest day of my life having to work through being newly diagnosed with HIV however from the start I began to tell my coworkers and try to get some sort of support. Everyone was very understanding, shocked as well, but stuck by me. I wanted to keep working to keep me distracted, keep my mind off things, and not ponder what my new life might be like.

I was contemplating not telling my parents as I thought it would hurt them more than help the situation however after seeing my mom’s face, someone who raised me and loved me since birth, obviously knowing that something was wrong, I couldn’t hold back. I told my mom first and we sat and cried for hours. The first thing she asked me is if I was gay, because in their minds, that was the only group that they had known to be contracting it. Later that night I told my dad before he left to go to work where we also embraced. They both assured me that no matter what, they would be there to support me. I had much education about it but never thought it would happen to me. Together we started to educate ourselves even more until we knew absolutely everything about this new “member” of the family so to say.

I got the confirmatory test results a couple of days later via my primary care doctor on the phone. My lymph nodes in my neck had began to swell and hurt in such a way that I had never felt that kind of pain before. During this time I was still holding out hope it was a false positive, it was all I had to cling onto. This was not the case my doctor informed me and said that my western blot also showed positive. I cried so much during the first week that I literally had no more water in my body to cry anymore. I didn’t know any of the girls that I had been with except my ex therefore I made the hardest call of my life. We had been separated for over 4 months or so now so she was very surprised when I called thinking I was wanting to amend the relationship. When I finally was able to get out the reason that I was calling “Amairany, I am HIV positive” I said in Spanish, she let out a blood curdling scream that I had nightmares about for the following months. She said she was going to get tested which gave me some sigh of relief, I knew she had never been tested. Her mom called me up the next day and was so pissed that I have never heard someone cuss so fast in Spanish before in my life. I had been faithful in the relationship but in their eyes I had cheated and now brought home HIV to one of their family members. I was not sure who I had contracted it from, nor when, therefore I was calling out of love because it was the right thing to do. That was the last I heard from her and never heard back since. I have since found out that she is negative however do not know if I truly believe it for the simple fact she comes from a very traditional family and out of pride/shame I know she wouldn’t tell anyone. I started to get involved in educating myself more, watching fellow activists on YouTube and how they got through it, and within a week of being diagnosed I started on HIV ARV treatment after finding out I had a 28,000 VL and 350 CD4. I had to make the decision of how to proceed with my life and I decided I would not let this virus destroy me. I kept a positive and optimistic attitude which I still carry to this day. Seeing other activists making a difference and helping others really wanted to make me get more involved in sharing my story which I have.

Everyone knows about my status and I try to show my face and share my story wherever I go so people know that this disease truly does not discriminate. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and there is no reason ANYONE deserves this virus. I just happened to have an unlucky hand at life in one sense however this journey has grown me so much mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am currently undetectable with a great cd4 count and wanting to make a difference in this world when it comes to HIV/AIDS. There is so much stigma, so much hate, so much discrimination, and the numbers continue to stay constant here in the US. I continually promote the use of protection and education to ensure that HIV stops with me.

This is my story, I am Joshua Middleton, and I am HIV +. I have a blog that I regularly update at http://www.pozitivehope.com and try to share videos every once in a while on YouTube to give hope to others. My goal is to see a HIV/AIDS free generation however we might be far away from that day, until then I want to do my part in putting a large dent in this epidemic.

www.pozitivehope.com

HIV, Comfortable? Um, No.

Just this past week I had someone tell me that I seemed “comfortable” with my diagnosis. Ha, comfortable is not the word bird! I do not think anyone is “comfortable”  being HIV Positive. It’s just that I spent enough time being sad and upset about my status that I finally decided enough is enough! Yes, I have accepted my diagnosis but I will always grieve my old life.

This has been a very difficult week for me because I now realize that finding a life partner may not be as easy as I had initially thought. Yes I had some good dates and no one seemed scared of me but those have gone and now I stand here alone. I wish everyone knew that just because I am HIV Positive that does not mean that I do not deserve to be loved. You can love me, I promise I am not contaminated.

The same person who thought I was “comfortable” having HIV also finds it hard to believe that I would put my story out there for all the world to see. But if I don’t who will? I have already had two friends tell me they are positive since I shared my story. I have had countless emails from people who are scared to get tested, people who recently tested positive and people that are nervously awaiting their HIV results. I try my best to console and educate those people the best that I can. I know I am helping people and that was my goal when I started this website. To help and educate people to the very best of my abilities. Once again, I had no idea that this would ever happen to me…

Below is a message I received via Instagram today. It is messages like this one that keeps me going. Keeps me posting and keeps me trying my best to educate as many people as I possibly can. Instagram Message

My Second Birthday, A Second Chance

One year ago today on March 19th, 2013 I found out that I was HIV Positive. For the last week I have been contemplating what I should refer to this day as? I guess some would call this day the anniversary of my diagnosis, but honestly I feel as if it is almost like a second birthday. A second chance to truly appreciate every moment that has been given to me. A chance to appreciate all of the wonderful people in my life. A chance to make better, healthier choices. An opportunity to be the best Rachel I possibly can be. Everything has a new meaning to me. Friends are more important, my family is more precious than I ever knew, and my happiness is my key to living MY awesome life. It is your life, do not let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. If you are not happy then you are squandering your days. Please do not squander your days, they are all you truly have.

Before I was diagnosed HIV Positive I can honestly say I took life for granted.  Now I look at life and realize how precious it truly is. I guess you could say I am one of the lucky people who caught their diagnosis early before it turned to AIDS or worse…  I have not had to deal with sicknesses or be worried about catching the common cold. I have had to worry about myself though. I’ve had to worry if people would still love me, care for me, or if they would whisper behind my back. I am sure there are some people who whisper or assume certain things but I have also learned to let that go. People are always going to talk and some people will always judge you, it’s up to you to let them affect you or not.

 As I’ve said many times before and will probably say many times again, I had no idea that this could or would ever happen to me.  I started my website for two reasons, 1.) To share my story and hopefully help to end the Stigma that is held against so many HIV Positive people and 2.) To encourage everyone who reads my blog or stumbles across my website to please get tested.  It is so much better to know and be able to do something about it than not know and wind up infecting others or getting really sick yourself.

Although the last year has by far been the longest, toughest, saddest most trying year of my 30 years on this earth, I have learned so much. I have learned that anything can happen, even things you never dreamed of. We are not invincible therefore we must take care of our body, mind, and spirit. I am working on these things every day. Yes I still get devastatingly sad sometimes but I always try to remind myself that HIV does not define me. Yes it is a part of me and yes that may scare away some people but I am not ashamed nor am I embarrassed. Everything happens for a reason and perhaps this happened so that I can warn all of you that yes it can happen to you too. No one wants to think about it, or even talk about it, but we must. We must talk about it! Please make sure you talk to your children, your friends and your family. As dreadful as the conversation may be. Trust me, contracting the virus is much harder on a person than having a conversation. A conversation that may change the way some people live their lives.

My Dad

Oh where do I begin? My Dad was so undeniably amazing that I know there are not enough words in this world to describe him with the justice in which he deserves.

Tomorrow marks the two year anniversary since his passing. Needless to say this has been an incredibly rough last few days. I try to remind myself that he is in a better place and one day I will see him again. It is just hard knowing he is not here to watch over me, protect me, listen to me rant on and on about boys and love, and last but definitely not least to buy me the god awful ugly flowers he always sent me for Valentines Day. No matter how hideous the arrangement was I always loved them so much because I knew he loved me and he did his best to pick out what he thought were the prettiest flowers :))

I was so lucky to get to call LeRoy Moats my Dad. Lucky I say because he chose me to be his daughter! When I was 25 years old he legally adopted me. That was by far the best birthday present I could have ever received.

There is something to be said about a fathers love.  I spent most of my life not knowing what a fathers love felt like. I only knew that it was important and that I yearned to have a Dad. LeRoy showed me what a real father was like. It was such a humbling experience to know that if there was ever anything I needed he would be there for me.  Be it just an ear to listen or some fatherly life advice he was always there. From buying cars to taking tequila shots, to listening to me cry for hours I could always count on my Dad.

When I found out I was HIV Positive I really wished he could be there. I was so scared and knew little to nothing about HIV. I knew if he was there he would have figured it all out for me. There would have been blueprints, graphs, books, it would have been figured out real quick! Anyone who knew my Dad knew he was a planning man, he would have had everything planned out, laid out, and hell he would probably be working on a cure right now.

Anyone who ever got the opportunity to meet my Dad just fell in love with him. He was just that type of person everyone was drawn to and if you didn’t just absolutely love him then you probably didn’t have a soul…  He loved everybody! And would do anything to help you. He definitely helped me out on several occasions…

I wish he could have been here through my diagnosis and even more so I wish he could see me now! I think he would be very proud of me.

I love you Dad and I miss you to the moon.

The Importance Of Support

From the very moment I found out that I was HIV Positive I have been surrounded with support. I started out attending a support group for people with HIV and even saw a therapist on a weekly basis. This helped immensely! I was able to deal with my diagnosis in ways I never knew, nor had ever imagined possible.

Just this last week my therapist informed me that I am doing such a phenomenal job that I no longer need to see her on a weekly basis and we will now only be meeting once a month. This made me a little sad but over the past few months I haven’t even shed a tear or shown any signs of sadness during our hour long meetings (and most of the time was spent talking about boys, I guess I knew it was coming).

Even in my work and home life I consider myself to be very lucky when it comes to support. I am surrounded by supportive, caring people and that has helped make my journey with HIV so much more bearable. Before I found the courage and strength to tell people what I was going through it was a very dark and lonely road. Now that I have shared my story and gained the support of all of my friends, family and coworkers I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I cannot stress how important it is to have a support system. Especially when dealing with something that has such a huge stigma attached to it.

It always amazes me when I meet someone who is HIV Positive and they tell me they have only told a select few people and maybe a couple of family members. I realize everyone deals with situations differently but I personally could not imagine keeping this a secret. When I first found out I tried to keep it a secret from several of my friends and family but in my case it only drew me further away from them. I began to close off and I knew it wasn’t fair to them. Maybe it’s the burning feeling in my gut to share my story and help end the stigma or maybe it’s just that I have a big mouth and find it impossible to keep a secret. Either way I am glad I shared my story and I am very thankful for all of the wonderful family and friends whom have supported me through my journey.

No, HIV is not going to kill me.

Since I have decided to tell the world I am HIV positive I have been asked many questions.  The most popular question being am I going to die?  My answer to that question is yes, I am going to die, we are all going to die.  Is HIV going to kill me?  No, HIV is not going to kill me.  I am more likely to die getting hit by a bus than I am from HIV.  I take medicine everyday and as long as I adhere to my medication I will live a perfectly normal lifespan.  Maybe not a perfectly normal life, but hey what is “normal” anyway?

Since I am by no means a medical professional I am posting a link to a website with some basic questions and answers regarding HIV.

HIV Basics

I hope this will help answer some of your questions. We should all educate ourselves the best we can. I will happily continue to answer all of your questions to the best of my ability.  In fact, I am really happy you guys are asking questions!  It means I am accomplishing what I set out to do.  Educate, bring awareness and help end the stigma attached to HIV are my main goals and even if I only touch a handful of people with my story, well then that’s a win in my book :)

Below is a photo of the medicine I take everyday. I am one of the “lucky” people and only have to take one pill a day. I take Stribild and have never experienced any side effects.

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Dating With HIV

Since I have started my journey with HIV I have met some very wise and amazing people,  one of which was a phenomenal woman named Terry Albritton.  When I was in my darkest days she brought me back to a place of hope…  She once said, and I quote, “Rachel you will have more “invitations” now that you are positive than you have ever had before”.  Boy was she right!  I can only assume that the confidence I  have gained has had something do to with that.  Whatever the case may be, she was definitely correct.  I have never had so many men want to date me in my life.  I don’t mean just date me, but actually want to have a real relationship with me.  One of my biggest fears was never finding anyone who would want to date a girl with HIV.  I cannot stress how much of a blessing those men have been.  Especially since I was convinced I would surely end up an “Old Cat Lady”.  The funny thing is now I do have a cat but I now know there is someone out there for me and God willing I will find him one day.

In the almost eight years before I was diagnosed HIV +,  there was one man who had my whole heart.  Sure, I “dated” other people but I would have dropped anyone or anything to be with him.  Unfortunately just a few months before I found out I was HIV + he decided he wanted to be with me and only me.  This was new to me and I was very scared and skeptical to say the least. Be it the list of women whom I knew had extreme interest in him or be it my lack of self confidence, either way after I found out I was positive the relationship fell apart.  I remember thinking why does he still want to be with me?  Who would want to be with someone they can’t even have sex with without worrying they would become infected with a virus they could never get rid of.  I was in such a dark place I think I actually convinced myself that he did not really want to be with me.  I will always love him and his family and they will forever hold a piece of my heart.  I feel as if everything happens for a reason and maybe, just maybe we were meant to be friends and not lovers.  Now that I have regained my confidence plus some, I have decided it is best if I move on and grow from that experience.

When I found out I was positive the idea of dating made me shutter with fear,  I remember even feeling sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

In the last few months of my journey my thought process has changed immensely.  I have went on several dates and even had a guy kiss me and after I told him I was HIV positive.  So far I have had no “bad” experiences when telling someone I am positive.  I accept that it could happen but it hasn’t yet and when and if it does it will just be another part of my journey with HIV.  At least I know now there are people who are willing to be with me and that makes my heart happy.  I may end up with a cat but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with a husband too.

If I could give a newly diagnosed person only one piece of advice I would tell them to stay strong and face your fears head on.  Don’t just stand there.  Nothing happens when you stand in one place.  The world will not just come to you, you must go to the world.  Do what makes you feel right.

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This Article has been published at Positivelite.com http://www.positivelite.com/component/zoo/item/dating-with-hiv

I Could Not Walk This Journey Alone

Breaking the news to my Mom was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  At the same time it was one of the most positive experiences I could have asked for.

As I sat in the Starbucks drive-thru that frightful Friday morning I realized I COULD NOT walk this journey alone.  I needed someone in my corner.  Not just anyone, I needed my Mom.  It was the day of my doctors appointment and I knew I would be receiving my blood draw results.  I already knew I was positive but this was the day I would be receiving my status in black & white and there would be no denying the fact that I am HIV +.

I think I woke up in tears that morning.  In fact there had not been a morning, afternoon or evening that I did not spend most of which in tears.  Lets be honest, I spent most of the last seven days bawling like a baby and today was no different.  It was 8 am and I knew if there was any hope of my Mom making the trip in time to escort me to my doctors appointment I would need to call her right away.  She answered the phone and I went straight to the facts.  I told her I had an appointment today and would be getting some test results back for an HIV test and I was pretty sure they would be positive and asked if she could please come to the doctor with me.  Her exact reply was, “Let me go so I can get ready.”  Whew, was that a relief!

I’ll never forget the poor man taking my coffee order that morning.  I’m not sure what all he heard from the speaker but when I got to the window he gave me my Starbucks for free and told me that he hoped my day got better.  Its funny how almost immediately following my diagnosis how much even the smallest acts of kindness meant so much to me.  Looking back, I feel like that day was filled with many angels.

I was sitting in my office counting down the minutes until my appointment time when my Mom and her boyfriend pulled up. (They must have sped all the way to San Diego because Las Vegas is a good 5 hour drive.)  The walk to the car was a long one.  Full of shame and guilt, (a true walk of shame) but let me tell you the moment I saw my Mom opening her door to get out and give me a hug was one of the greatest moments I had experienced in my 30 years of my life.  Her and her boyfriend both gave me big bear hugs and already I felt a million times better.

The clinic was only a block away from my office so we headed over.  We went in only to find out my results hadn’t came back yet and we would have to wait until the next day.  Great, just what I needed… One more day before facing the inevitable.

That evening they took me to stay with them at a swanky hotel in downtown San Diego.  We went and had a few drinks in Little Italy and stopped for pizza on the way back to the hotel.  It was one of the most enjoyable evenings I could have asked for.  Especially when they tasted the wine I was drinking from MY GLASS! That moment truly made me feel human again.

The next morning as we were waiting for the clinic to call we went to the Farmers Market.  Honestly, I hadn’t felt so normal.  The last week felt like it had lasted a month and I was worried I would never feel like a “normal” person again.

When the clinic finally called we headed over to get the news in black and white.  At this point I pretty well knew it would be positive but I still held onto that small glimmer of hope that it was a false positive.. When we arrived a woman named Erica took us to a small office to break the news. She was such a kind woman and right away tried to offer every piece of advice she had.  She was the second angel I encountered on the frightful weekend.  I couldn’t have asked for a nicer woman to be the bearer of my oh so devastating, life altering news.

I had, had the last eight days to process the idea of living with HIV and to be honest all I really wanted to know was what happens next? Where do I get this miracle medicine everyone keeps talking about and how do I pay for this medicine?  And most importantly how much does this medicine cost?  These were all questions Erica did not have the answers to.  She gave me a list of places and organizations that could guide me in the right direction.  Unfortunately, none of these places were open on Saturdays.  My questions would all have to wait until Monday…

Not having any place to turn to for the answers I so desperately needed i turned to the internet.  Lets just say that IS NOT the place to turn to before speaking with a medical professional who specializes in HIV.  As with most everything else in life the worst parts are always highlighted.  The first picture I came across was a picture of David Kirbys last days.  I quickly decided I would wait until Monday to get the answers I so desperately needed..

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The Day I Was Diagnosed- March 19th, 2013

It has been eight months and twenty-eight days since I received the most devastating news of my life. On March 19th, 2013 I found out that I was HIV positive. It was just an ordinary day. I got out of bed, got ready for work, stopped and got my morning Starbucks and headed to work. Later that afternoon I headed to the local planned parenthood to get my birth control refilled. It started out as any other visit. I gave them my name, filled out the ever so mundane health history, peed in a cup and had my finger pricked for the routine HIV test.

I will never forget the soul numbing sensation I felt the day the doctor walked in and gave me the news.

“What?” Surely I did not hear her correctly. I imagine the look on my face must have been enough for the doctor to understand I wasn’t grasping what she was saying to me. So she repeated herself, and still I could not seem to understand the words that were coming out of her mouth. Then it hit me like a freight train traveling at the speed of light. She said I was HIV Positive. I swear I felt my spirit leave my body. It was like the Rachel I had known just vanished and I was left in this shell, of well… nothingness. At that very moment I wished I was dead. It was the first time in my life that I truly wished I was no longer walking in this beautiful world. I thought my life was ending right there at that very moment. I mean I have HIV doesn’t that mean I’m going to die anyways? Might as well be now.

Wait! How could this be? I’ve never used needles, let alone shared needles. I’ve never slept with a homosexual man and as far as I knew heterosexual women do not contract HIV. I don’t want to get sick and skinny and waste away. I don’t want my friends and family to know I was just diagnosed with HIV. What will they think of me? Will they still love me? Will they still hug me? Will my friends want to hang out with me? Will anyone ever want to touch me again? The doctor asked me if I wanted her to call anyone for me. What? Are you serious? I mean who in the hell are you going to call for me? I just found out I am HIV positive and you want to call someone for me? I don’t even know what being HIV Positive really means but I know enough about what people think of when they think of HIV, and I’m not about to tell another living soul unless I absolutely have to! No thank you! I will deal with this all by my lonesome. I mean I have no family here and the people closest to me are my roommates. Oh no, my roommates! What if they find out and they don’t want me to live with them anymore? Where will I go? Really doc, what am I going to say? “Um, hey can you come pick me up from the doctor and by the way, I’m HIV +!” Yea I don’t think so…

I do not remember too much from the rest of that visit besides the doctor telling me that it might be a false positive due to some Prescription diet pills I had been taking. OK, that is a glimmer of hope. Maybe it is the diet pills causing the false positive. I remember them taking my blood to send off to the lab to be tested. I remember thinking back to the last time I was tested and knowing right away who gave it to me. If this is true and I am HIV Positive then he would have to be as well.

I knew there was only one person I could have been infected by and I knew if he tested positive; than this was real. I couldn’t bear to wait the 7-10 days for those results to come back, I had to know now. I was calling his phone before my foot stepped outside of the clinic. If this is real then he will be positive as well. If he is negative then I know this is just a false positive and I can rest easy. Ugh, why isn’t he answering his phone? I must have called him 10 times in 2 minutes. I knew he must be at work so I started to look up his work number when finally he called back. I wasn’t even slow to say it. It just spilled out of me like hot lava erupting from a volcano. I begged him to leave work right at that moment and go get tested. He said he couldn’t but that he would do it first thing in the morning. I was so frustrated. I didn’t want to wait until the morning. I wanted to know now! But I let it go and we agreed he would go to the clinic first thing in the morning. I would have to wait until the next day…

I actually went back to work that day. Needless to say, I wasn’t very productive. I guess it made more sense than going home and facing my roommates. I knew all they would have to do is take one look at my face and they would know there was something wrong, something very wrong. I was not ready to talk about this yet and what if they didn’t want me to live there anymore? The prospects were way too risky for me.

I spent that evening hoping and praying to God almighty himself to please let this be a false positive. I made promises that surprised even me. I promised him I would not ever take life nor anyone or anything in it for granted ever again. I promised him I would be the best Rachel I could possibly be and I would live the best life I could possibly live. I would strive hard to be a better person than anyone I had ever met. I honestly would have done anything humanly possible to have those test results come back as a false positive. I had lots of hope that evening.

The next morning my friend called as he was waiting in the Planned Parenthood parking lot for them to open. I could hear the fear in his voice as we hoped and prayed together for his results to be negative. The next couple of hours as I waited for him to call me back were the longest two hours of my entire life. Finally he called. I remember his exact words were. “I am so sorry Rachel.” I waited for him to bust out an “I’m just kidding, it was negative!” He never did say that. We just cried.

I knew I didn’t need my blood draw results anymore. I knew I was HIV+.

We Are HIV

Maybe I missed that day in Sex Ed. The day they warned us that if we had unprotected sex we could end up contracting a virus that would utterly change our lives forever?  I’m not sure we ever did really, truly discuss HIV in school. I remember talking about our reproductive organs and I remember laughing with my friends. We were all so young I doubt I would’ve retained any knowledge at that point anyways.

 

I only wish someone would have warned me that I would be at risk. I always thought in order to contract HIV you had to A.) Use drugs intravenously and share needles B.) Have homosexual sex C.) Be a prostitute or D.) Be one of the very unfortunate people to receive a blood transfusion with HIV infected blood.  Apparently those are not the only ways in which one can contract the HIV virus.

 

In my case I simply slept with one of my greatest friends whom happened to be HIV+.  The fact that he is in better shape than anyone I know, has never used drugs, never had homosexual sex and has always taken extreme care of his body meant nothing at all.  HIV does not discriminate.

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Click on the link below to find a testing site near you!

http://locator.aids.gov/

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