Under 30 & Positive

Today’s post is from an interview with a young member of LTAI. She talks about what it is like to be under 30 and positive.

As a young adult, what is it like living with HIV?
It hasn’t been easy. When I was 12, my parents told me I was HIV positive and I completely freaked out. I didn’t know why I was taking all the meds and why I was in the hospital so much. I didn’t tell my friends, I never told them in high school.

Why didn’t you tell your friends about your status?
I was afraid of their reactions. Back then, the school I went to was pretty elite, so I really didn’t want to get into it with them. My family didn’t make me feel any different that I had HIV. I grew up in a loving home with brothers and sisters. They didn’t have it, but nobody looked at me differently. I did all the things that kids do; I took horseback riding lessons, took swimming lessons. I just had more doctors’ appointments, was in the hospital more than they were and I had to take the medication every day.

Was it hard to hide your status from your friends?
Not really. Sometimes they asked me why I couldn’t give blood and I just said I was afraid of needles. But no, it wasn’t particularly hard. They probably would have been pretty accepting if I told them. I just didn’t want to because we had grown up together since kindergarten and I didn’t want to lose their friendship if they had known. For me, in recent years, it has gotten easier.

What would you like to share with young adults living with HIV?
That you can live a full life with HIV and can do anything that anyone else is doing. It’s not the end of the world; it’s not a death sentence… just stay strong, keep your spirits up and take your meds.

*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “Let’s talk About It Magazine.”

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3 thoughts on “Under 30 & Positive

  1. It makes me happy to read you have such a good life in spite of this disease. One day maybe none of us have to fear disclosing our status. Hopefully your hospital visits will become less and less also. I think you were right in not sharing your status with school friends. Maybe the friends wouldn’t have cared but some of the parents would have brought their fears into the relationship and caused you hurt. Adults seem to be a lot more ignorant and judgmental about the HIV disease even today. I just saw on television “The Doctors” show about a boy in Kissimmee ,Florida with HIV. He was playing on a school basketball team until they found out he was HIV positive and benched him and exposed his status to everyone. The coach or person who did this was fired and the boy was back playing the game again. However exposing his HIV status not only to his team, his school, his friends, and the entire community or world was not his choice. The HIPAA law was passed for that very reason and no one else has the right to disclose anyone’s medical condition or diseases.
    I too don’t tell anyone about my disease outside the medical community and a few immediate family members. None of my husband’s family know even though one is in the medical field somewhat. I always wonder when a family member treats me badly “if” it’s due to the disease. We are alone except for other HIV patients who understand the disease. Sad but true.
    I wish you a long healthy life. One day maybe there will be a cure.

  2. It must have been quite an emotional struggle to keep your status private. Through the strength of people like yourself, who continue to speak out, the stigma will end and the awareness of HIV will increase. Thank you for sharing your story.

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