In 2011, I suspected that something might be wrong with my health when I developed large lymph nodes around my neck, groin area, and hands. I then took an HIV blood test, and the results came back negative. So, I requested for the polymerase chain reaction test that detects the virus days or weeks after exposure, and it came back positive. I was shocked, and couldn’t stop crying. I then attended counseling to help me come to terms with my status, and it worked. I immediately disclosed to my partner who dumped me shortly afterward. But, I was grateful for the support that I received from my friends. Disclosing to my family was more difficult. I was afraid to tell my father because my sister had died from an HIV-related infection in 2005. So, I wrote him a letter. He’s still uncomfortable talking about it, but I know that he loves and cares about me.
I started taking antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) when I got into a new relationship and wanted to minimize the chances of transferring the virus to my HIV-negative partner while we were trying to have a baby. The ARVs make the virus undetectable. The only side effect that I have is the occasional joint pain.
LIVING MY BEST LIFE
HIV is a normal chronic illness that’s manageable. I love my life, and I now give motivational talks with the Soul City Institute to educate and empower people about HIV/Aids.
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