I took the same silly risks that many other people make every day. The only difference is that one of those risks now means I am living with HIV. Just the thought of being HIV positive and having to tell others was really daunting. To be honest, it is still an overwhelming prospect and one that I am still dealing with.
When I finally told my best friend, she got angry at me for not telling her earlier. She could tell there was something troubling me and confronted me about what I was hiding. I live with anxiety and this was heightened during this time of disclosure to my closest friend. I have still not shared my status with a number of close friends and I am working up my strength to tell them. In the meantime I am omitting details about my HIV, but I wouldn’t deny it.
There have been moments I found confronting in the online dating space. For example, receiving a message asking me, ‘Are you clean or not?’ As a person with high personal hygiene standards, I found this extremely offensive. I do my best to look after myself and the judgement implied reminded me why I am mindful when it comes to disclosing my HIV Positive status. Living with HIV means I have re-evaluated my life. After a few years of getting lost in the murky world of party-and-play (PNP), I finally decided to take steps to get my life moving into a more positive direction.
I am now back at TAFE studying social work. I work part-time and I’m hopeful of finding employment in the HIV sector. I eat well and train at my local gym to stay fit and well. In time, I hope I will be able to help others navigate their way safely through their own post-diagnosis HIV minefield and live a happy and healthy life.