When I was first diagnosed with HIV in August of 1996, I was 29, hooked on drugs and alcohol. I thought I was handed a death sentence; I hid my status for 13 years. Sometimes I felt that I was not worthy to live. I carried on as if I didn’t have it. I’d hide doctor’s appointments and rip labels off my medications, stashing them deep in my closet.
One day, after a three-day crack binge, I decided to get sober. I went into Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Step program of recovery. It was during my 4th step of Alcoholics Anonymous that I revealed my status to my sponsor. She is Hepatitis-C positive and I felt somewhat safe. She didn’t run away. Instead, she gently hugged me while crooning how much she loved me until the tears were spent. She suggested reaching out and finding others like me. That was February 5th, 2010. I continued to disclose, one by one, and had many positive experiences. So, I disclosed at a 12 step meeting with a desire to help others in the rooms. The following day, after my disclosure, I had two phone calls from that meeting. One girlfriend said “I am so proud of you and want you to know that you are always welcome in my house.” The next call was similar, except this woman was Hepatitis-C positive and had been hiding it for years. She wanted care, but was emotionally broke! It was a relief to put my fears away and trust in God. I was even able to help her!
If, or when, I meet someone ugly or cruel to me, I realize that person is the loser, not I! This is a good day in the world of HIV. I often feel grateful to have contracted this virus, especially after my rapid disclosure. I organized my priorities; my motives are pure. I want to help others and I had to get myself out of the way! This took two years!
What’s the bottom line? Everyone must move at their own speed; fear can stop us! I’ve turned fear into courage. Life IS good.