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You can Survive

I was diagnosed with HIV in 1987, at age 11. I was likely infected at least four years or so before, as I came down with shingles in 1984.


For the first 9 years of my diagnosis, I didn't talk about being infected. I simply wanted to live my life and try my best to ignore the "doom and gloom" of AIDS, as there weren't many stories of survival in the late 80's. Inside, I did wonder if I would make it to adulthood and what my chances of living a "normal" life were.
As I got older, my silent treatment for HIV became somewhat problematic. Specifically when I began dating. When I was 13, my girlfriend came up to me in the hallway, crying and asked me, "Do you have AIDS?" I lied, because in my mind I distinguished HIV from AIDS. HIV meant you were doing OK, AIDS meant you were sick. I knew I was not being honest, but I didn't want to "the sick boyfriend".


Things got tougher a few years later when I fell in love for the first time. One thing led to another, and my girlfriend and I became sexually active. She wasn't infected, but we were "fooling around". My idea of HIV prevention was to not ejaculate, I was too embarrassed to use a condom (as is normal with some teens).
Finally, at age 20, I came out of my AIDS closet and put up a website. Currently I'm 27, the healthiest I've been, and am in an open, fulfilling and amazing relationship. My partner Gwenn (who is HIV negative) and I speak at colleges and educate students on HIV/AIDS topics... I'm posting here because I want other young people to know that you can survive, and things get easier with time. So hang in there, and feel free to visit me at http://www.mypetvirus.com
Take care,
Shawn.

 

Sent via email, August 27, 2002, Charlottesville, Vl, USA.

 
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