Given that I’ve been running an AMA on Reddit the past few days, I’ve gotten the chance to see questions from a public who is not specifically looking for information about HIV and have instead stumbled across it just by looking at its subforum. One of the questions I’ve been asked is how the community (health and those around me) have responded to my diagnosis. I wanted to shed a little light on that through a blog post.
Since my diagnosis on November 17th, 2014, my life has been a bit of a whirlwind. Though it’s only recently started to slow down, the amount of pressure I’ve been under (both physically and emotionally) has been extremely tolling. Being diagnosed with a life-changing illness isn’t an easy thing. It weighs on your mind unlike any physical burden you can imagine–which then, in turn, causes your body to have adverse reactions. Stress is a horrible hormone that we still haven’t adapted to in our modern age. Because of that, I’ve dealt with various symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, and eating problems not included.) I am happy to say, however, that I’ve had a lot of support from the community.
Every person I have seen regarding my diagnosis (from government officials, to doctors, to specialists) has been extremely supportive. I’ve talked about how I was required to meet with a health and human services agent regarding my past sex partners, about the mountains of paperwork I’ve had to fill out with social workers, and about my first meeting with my specialty doctor. I have also discussed how a previous partner reacted to the news of my diagnosis. In all, though, everyone I have encountered has been incredibly supportive and very understanding. Even people whom are not familiar with the condition have asked questions about what I’m going through, and while some may believe that I’ve gone a bit too far in detailing the experience(s) surrounding my condition, I’ve found just as much appreciation because of it. Through my blogging, I am breaking a stigma–shattering, in effect, the red tape of taboo that fences off my condition from the rest of the world. The community of HIV professionals, sufferers and supporters has been overwhelmingly supportive. For that, I can’t thank people enough.
So when people ask, How has your experience been? I can say, Good. Not once have I felt judged by any professional I’ve seen. That, I feel, is the most important part of this whole journey: that I’ve been treated human and not degraded for anything I’ve done. It makes talking to people a lot easier, especially when they are willing to listen.