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I admire you all

Hi everyone. I just want to offer my love and support to all you people worried about having contracted hiv. I fully understand the immense anxiety, guilt and utter terror that surrounds and controls you for the 3 months until you can test and know for sure if you have contracted the virus.

I just received my negative result at 3 months today, and the relief is just... the most amazing feeling. I am now 19 years old, going to university, and I hate to admit that I am a very spoilt, only daughter. When my mother had me, she had her only wish fullfilled (Before her mother's death, her mother asked my mum what her greatest wish was, and it was for a daughter.) As such, I lived a very protected life, always given what I wanted, and more besides. Due to this upbringing, I was a rather late comer to the life of sex and rock and roll. Once I left home for university, I quickly began actively looking for male attention. However, being a shy girl, I didn't have much luck meeting people in real life venues.

My story begins after I'd given unprotected oral sex to a guy I had met on the internet, in a very drunken state. The last thing on my mind was safe-sex! After doing this to him 3 times, we fell asleep and the next day he left.

11 days after this I developed a very bad case of tonsillitis, making me bed- bound. I had a sore throat, swollen neck lymph nodes, a fever and ached all over. I was exhausted and getting out of bed was the equillivent of climbing Mount Everest! I was fully recovered in 1 week and thought nothing of it until after looking up tonsillitis symptoms on the internet, to try and work out if I'd had the viral or bacterial form. I looked at quite a few sites, skimming information, until my eyes met the word "HIV." It said that the tonsillitis could actually be due to ARS symptoms!!

I just sat there stunned for what seemed like forever, my life flashing before my eyes. I was 18, my birthday in just over a month, I couldn't have HIV! I was a student, students were meant to have rampant sex with each other!! Why did I have HIV!? I'd only had 2 partners before, and my only sexual act was that night when i gave a pratical stranger oral sex.
I then went into overdrive, searching for "oral sex" and HIV risks. Even though it was said that oral sex is a "low risk activity," the word "risk" always convinced me 100% that I had contracted it. Of the 3 months I had to wait until I could recieve a conclusive result, I must have spent 2 months searching about HIV on the internet! I must have visited over 1 million sites, and they always said the same thing, that is was low "risk." The worst thing I searched for were the words "tonsillitis" and "hiv" together, and of course I found loads of results linking the 2 illnesses togther.
Everytime I searched the internet, it was like seeing my impending death. When I actually managed to sleep, I dreamt of seeing my parents standing over my grave, crying.

To be honest I think I was more ashamed than scared. My parents probably thought, and still think, that I believe babies come from storks in the sky. If I'd contracted HIV at 18, I'd probably only live into my 40's, making my nightmare a reality. After so much love and pride in me, I'd let my parents down. When I found out I'd passed my first year at university I didn't care at all. What was the point? I'd probably only live for another 20 years in good health, then get AIDS and die. My birthday came and went. I couldn't even pretend to enjoy myself. It was just one more year closer to my impending death.
I got tested at 8, 10 and 11 weeks, all negative. After each test I'd be happy for 1 hour, then immediately panic again, because I knew that it wasn't yet the 3 month mark. I even got to the stage where I thought the people that took my blood sample may have forgotten to use a clean needle, and even if I hadn't had HIV before, I did now! Of course now I know I was just being paranoid, I live in the UK and all the test centres I went to were NHS.

Everytime I talked to a counsilor at a centre, I'd tell them everything I'd done, and go on about viral loads and all the things we paranoid people know about, and about how I knew the average number of days people turn positive is 25, when they tried to advise me to wait for 3 months. I now notice one crucial difference in the way true experts think, and the way fearful people think. When you do a low- risk activity, the fact is it is LOW risk. When we hear that, I believe we just treat it the same as a High risk, because of that word "risk," which, in terrified people, is the same as a definate fact. If an expert tells you not to worry so much because your risk was low, or if they even tell you they don't advise a test at all, because your risk was so low "i was told that 4 times," I believe they really mean it. Remember these people know their stuff. They haven't just read loads of depressing facts on the internet, these people actually Know and have experienced many cases, many of them probably almost identical to yours. If they say something is low- risk, they are trying to comfort you, giving their honest opinion, based on Facts, not paranoid delusions.

I honestly know that when you're waiting to take the test, or waiting for your results, that it's easy to think that you've definately gotten the rare HIV-2, or that you're one of the very, very, very few that take longer than 3 months to have detectable antibobies. Please don't do this! If that was true, do you think the test people wouldn't tell you? These rare events are just that, RARE!

Now that I know I am HIV negative, I intend to do all in my power to stay that way. If it's alcohol that makes you do things you regret the next morning, which is my case, then don't get drunk with people you don't know very well, and if you are going out drinking in order to get laid, then make sure you have protection on you! Again, I know that "if you've got it, use it," doesn't always work, you may be too drunk to remember to use a condom, even if your bag's full with them, but you're still more likely to remember to use them if you have them!

I would like to take this time for a spiritial message too, for I know that without God, I wouldn't have made it this far, or even if I had, I wouldn't be sane! If you're not religious, you may find comfort in at least praying, who to doesn't matter, but saying your thoughts and fears out loud can really help. If you're lucky enough to have friends that are prepared to listen to your constant worrying, use them! Even if they only make you laugh once, it may give you the strength to carry on, and see that life is worth living, no matter what the out come.

I wish the Best Of Luck to everyone reading this who are living in fear, as I did. 3 months is an incredibly long time, and everyone that manages the wait and remains sane is indeed a very strong person.

Those of you that know you are HIV positive, to you I wish great health and prosperity. I cannot say that I know how it feels to find out that you are indeed positive, but I admire you all, for your strength and courage. I wish you a great life!

Thank you for reading my story. If I've helped in anyway then I'm very glad. I wrote this, mainly to help support people who went through what I did, and also to tell people to trust your medical advisors! They do know what they're saying, so don't poke holes in their words just to give yourself a good reason to carry on worrying!

Best of luck and love to you all!


Sent via Email September 8, 2006 from England.

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