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Do not self diagnose

Hi all,
I know that if you have stumbled across this page then you are worried about taking a HIV test, or are worrying about the results of one. The first thing I should tell you is to GET OFF THE INTERNET! (You'll see where I'm going with this in a minute!) but for now, please read on.

I noticed some bleeding between my periods recently, and didn't think anything of it, until it happened at the same time the following month. Being a bit worried about "downstairs" problems, I went straight to my local GUM clinic to see what could be the problem.

When I got there, the nurses were really nice - its a really scary experience if you haven't been to one before so this made me relax (well, as much as I could in this circumstance).
I had a blood test, and also internal swabs and an internal examination. The nurses said that my test results would be back within a week, gave me a leaflet and off I went. I got home and remembered the leaflet I was given so had a read - it stated that not only had I been tested for STI's, but also for HIV. My stomach sank. HIV? Me? Then I started to panic. Why had I been tested? Was there something the doctor had suspected and not told me? I immediately logged onto the internet and Googled "symptoms of hiv" - the worst thing anyone can do. Reading further, I had convinced myself that I was HIV positive. I'd had flu, had swollen glands, an unexplained rash on my back and 2 years earlier, had been struck down with pnuemonia and spent two weeks in intensive care.

I was absolutely distraught by this point, and in the space of an hour, I'd gone from being mildly concerned about spotting inbetween periods to being convinced that I was dying of AIDS. It was so unlike me, I'm certainly no hypocondriac and normally shake off colds with some vitamins and hot drinks.

I began questioning everything - I had been with my boyfriend for 3 and a half years, we were living together and were planning for our future. I had worked hard at university, got a good job and was financially secure. All our friends were from nice, middle class families - how on earth would they react when they knew I had HIV? How would I tell my parents, my family? I had been fairly promiscuous in my "former" life...at university everyone is experimenting and as I was on the pill I didn't feel the need to use a condom - my main concern was not getting pregnant. I guess I must've slept with 40 guys in the 10 years since starting uni to how old I was now. Not something I'm proud of.

My boyfriend got home and saw that I was in a right state. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I had been tested for HIV but I was convinced that I had it. Then the thought went through my head - what if I'd infected him too? We were both very quiet as we came to terms with the bombshell that I'd just dropped. But he was amazing, and said that IF (and it was a very big if) that I was HIV positive, and he was too, then he would stick with me. This should've helped me deal with it, but it didn't. I didn't eat and I didn't sleep that whole night. I kept going through my sexual history in my head over and over and over again. I had decided that if the test was positive then I would consider suicide. I couldn't live with myself if I'd infected the love of my life and crushed my parents dream of a healthy daughter and grandchildren in the future.
I woke up the next day (after about 30 minutes of sleep) and still felt naseaus. I decided that I could't put myself through 6 more days of agony, so I searched the internet and found a private doctors practice that offered the HIV test with instant results (60 seconds) - it was extortionatly expensive, but I decided that money was no object over peace of mind.
I went along to the practice and explained what had been going on. The doctor was lovely and completely understood the reason why I had decided to pay for the instant test. He made a small prick in my finger and took a bllod sample....then waited. Sure enough after 60 seconds my results were in...I WAS NEGATIVE. I burst into tears with sheer relief and had to go to the toilet to be sick - the relief was indescribable. The doctor said that most people liken a negative test to being reborn - and I absolutely understood what he meant. He made me a cup of tea and let me have 30 mintues to myself and let the result kick in.

If you do suspect that you have the HIV infection, I can't emphasise strongly enough how much you need to go for a test. Its scary and its horrible but please believe me, it is better to know one way or the other. Even if the result is positive, the earlier its detected, the more you are likely to survive for a long long time. HIV is no longer a death sentence - medication is improving all of the time to help combat the disease.

The worst thing I did was to go on the internet and look up "symptoms of hiv" or "symptoms associated with hiv" - DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSE! The most you worry and the more anxiety you put yourself under can make things worse - the slightest rash or the smallest sniffle can send you into a cataclysmic meltdown. It made me, miss happy go lucky with a perfect life, want to contemplate taking my own life, and after the relief had settled down, that scared me.
I learnt a hard lesson. In the end, my spotting between periods was just down to thrush, but never again will I be so stupid not to wear a condom with a new partner until we are both tested for everything. My boyfriend and I are still going from strength to strength - we are now planning our wedding and we both know that the other is infection free.
God bless xx


Sent via Email May 7, 2008 from London.

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