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Cherish life

Please let me start by saying this is my own personal account/feelings and in no way am I attempting to influence or downplay others. I just wanted to express my thoughts as others have done.

Recently I (a 31 year old gay male) had been ill and had gone through a number of tests to find out what was wrong with me, leukemia, hepatitis, blood work, etc. All which came out fine and were not pointing to anything. Great except for the overwhelming anxiety of a situation which put me at risk about six years earlier. Let me go back for a minute the story, similar to others, drunk and young on vacation I had unprotected sex. A couple of weeks after returning home I developed high fevers, muscle aches as well as other problems which don't need to be mentioned as you already get the point. Many visits to the doctor later they literally rushed me in for an HIV test as they found an "organism" in one of the tests/cultures that was predominant in those who are HIV positive. After much anguish and anxiety of the two week wait, the result came back negative. I could relax for what was probably a day or two as I knew in the back of my head that it could take longer for me to test positive of which I never went back for a follow up test.

I continued to live under the "ignorance is bliss" theory for the next six years until this past year when I had developed a cold at least four times which seemed to take considerably longer to clear up whereas I had rarely even caught a cold before. Then came an illness of having abdominal pains, fever and other symptoms. My anxiety had risen to an entirely new level. I went through all the tests mentioned earlier and finally once all those came back fine, I decided I had to do what needed to be done as I was "sure" of what it was. So there I went for my second HIV test six years later. Fortunately, my fear again was unfounded. Yet another instance of YOU DON'T KNOW UNLESS YOU'RE TESTED.

So what prompted me to go for the HIV test? A number of things:
-Reading a post from a gentlemen who waited ten years in between tests, who had similar symptoms, who tested positive and recounting the fact that he waited so long in between tests and how foolish he felt. Indeed, I was feeling foolish as well. To that man and his post. Thank you!

- Watching a family member and friends (past and present) and the courage they have/had in facing their positive status one of which has been positive for over twenty years. To my aunt and friends. Thank you!
- Realizing how could I be so selfish so as not to confront my fear. I made the decision to have unprotected sex I was mature enough for sex (or immature for the unprotected aspect) Now was the time to be mature enough to get an HIV test. To my rational side of my brain.Thank you!

- Knowing that if I do have HIV, there are treatment medications that could enhance my life expectancy! This was especially important to me for one reason in particular. The two most important people in my life are my mother and grandmother. My grandmother passed away a little over a year ago and though I can't wait to see her again, I'm in no hurry, but I digress the fact is, I was there when she passed, and I want to be there when my mother does (as strange as that sounds and hopefully many, many years away) Hence, if I was to be diagnosed, I'm taking whatever may help me get there. The best way of preservation and longevity is early detection. To my mom and grandma. Thank you!
It's not the test that gives you HIV, it's the test that‚s going to determine if a previous decision/risk has infected you, it‚s the test that‚s going to determine if you need help, it‚s the test that's going to help you LIVE! Please, get tested, the saying "knowledge is power" is not unfounded people.

Moreover, and I'm speaking personally here, I get annoyed/tired (lack of better words) of those who get tested and the result is negative who have the need to say they have a new chance at life Is this suppose to mean that those who test positive do not? I prefer to think of it as having learned a lesson and altering my way of life, the life that I had before, just altered, more informed and hopefully better choices. Additionally, those who test positive also have an alternate way of life, though I cannot begin to understand or imagine such a drastic change, none-the-less, they are still living and have their chance at life as well. Just because we test negative doesn't mean we will live longer than those who test positive there are many other ills and tragedies in the world which occur every day. Typically, all you hear is glee when a negative status result comes back, rightfully so, but please, don't forget what you went through earlier and learn from it. Ignorance is not bliss, it's irrational and foolish.
To all those who posted and are positive with encouraging stories Thank you!
To the websites that make it possible for people to share their stories and have support Thank you!
To all those who are negative and had the courage to be tested Thank you!
To meical technology ensuring a positive status does not equal a death sentence Thank you!
To life. Thank you!
Cherish life and realize that life is for those who are both HIV negative and positive.
I know there may be many that are saying well it's easy for me to say all this as I am negative, and as that may be true, I would hope that it has encouraged at least one more person to go and get tested!


Sent via Email June 9, 2005 from Chicago, USA.

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