Today is my 23rd, uh, no 22nd Anniversary
It was on Thursday, 12 December 1985, when I received the call at work to tell me that I had been tested for HIV and that my results had been confirmed as HIV+. My blood was drawn on 25 August 1985, but at the time, just having an HIV test on your health record could have affected one's insurance status in the US. As a result, my doctor postponed that test until the latest possible time. My results were due in on Friday the 13th, but came back early by one day. Now I dread both Thursday the 12th and Friday the 13th.
It was so long ago when I was tested that I have forgotten how frightening an HIV test is for most people. When I hear of people who throw up from relief on hearing that their HIV- status is intact, it reminds me how feared HIV/AIDS can be for many. In fact, it has been so long that I am beginning to forget the number of years that I have survived. I honestly thought that this was my 23rd year, but in reality, I am into my 23rd year...I just haven't yet survived through to that anniversary. Also, I was likely infected a number of years before I was tested for HIV, so pinning down the time of my infection versus the time of my seroconversion and ultimate test result is a bit of a crapshoot.
Imagine yourself for a moment. Imagine receiving the call that your blood is poisonous to others and that your life will never, ever be the same again. Imagine being told to get your affairs in order. Imagine being told that you might live 2-5 years at most. Imagine hearing all of this and not being able to share the news with anyone for fear of abandonment, rejection or worse.
Now...imagine having to go home to your family Christmas two weeks later and having to pretend that nothing in your life has changed in the least. That was 1985 for me. It is 22 years later and I am still here.
I hope that it is an inspiration for some that I have survived so long. I am very fortunate and I know it. Not everyone makes it this long. Treatment is expensive and must be strictly followed or you may not last as long as I have. When asked how I have done it, I can not truly tell you. I am reminded of the old bumper sticker that reads that "The more you complain, the longer God lets you live." I like to think that my activism about how HIV/AIDS is viewed is helping to keep me alive.
My family is dealing with other issues this year and my time to blog is likely to be affected. I hope that you will send us your prayers and thoughts for healing or at least for adjustment to our new reality. The best thing you can do, above all, is to cherish those you love, to give what you can to those who most need your help and to imagine a world with peace, understanding and universal healthcare. If you see something going on that needs to change, please, speak out for yourself and for those who can not raise their voices.
Peace to you all during the rest of the year and into 2008 and beyond.
Categories: HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS testing anniversary