Sick is how I felt when I opened the letter which stated that my blood donation had shown “significant results”. Numbly I phoned the number on the letter and a lovely Doctor told me that one of the things they screen blood for is HIV and my results showed it was highly likely that I had HIV.
Very quickly the decision to share my new found status was made. As a mum of two and it being school holidays, I needed someone to look after them that afternoon whilst I went to the Sexual Health Clinic. Luckily for me, my parents had the day off so I fired a quick text to my mum to come round NOW. With the kids packed off to local shop to get sweets, I was left with all of two minutes to disclose to my mum that her eldest, sensible daughter had HIV. My mum was amazing as she always is and arranged for my dad to take the children off for the afternoon whilst she came with me to the appointment. As an aside my parents have been brilliant and I would urge anyone who has not told a close trusted member of family of friend to do so, finding out you are HIV positive is an isolating experience and I could not have coped without their support.
At the clinic I met a very friendly, very chatty Health Care Advisor who said it was probably a “false positive” as I didn’t fit the criteria for HIV and herein lies the problem: HIV has no criteria. If you have unprotected sex regardless of age, race, colour, religion, sex or sexuality you may get infected, it really is a simple as that. Having had a couple of unprotected sexual encounters it is hard to say who actually infected me. The most likely candidate is a Zimbabwean I slept with, apparently Zimbabwe is a HIV hot-spot (who knew? I certainly didn’t!). The reality is I can’t say for sure. I don’t feel any anger but I do feel tremendous guilt that I may have given it to someone, who may have given it to someone etc. The clinic has tried to trace one of them but there is no trace, the other I only know his first name so that trail also runs cold.
Blood tests were taken that day and an appointment made to meet my Consultant two weeks after. I can honestly say those two weeks were hell. Forcing yourself to act “normal” at home and at work is not an easy thing to do. At night instead of sleeping I just fell apart, I cried and I googled HIV/AIDS. In the end I convinced myself I would die before I ever got to go to my next appointment (Top tip: BEWARE OF GOOGLE, especially at 3am!).
Oddly enough I did make it to my appointment where my wonderful, softly spoken, calming Consultant saw me and told me that I did indeed have HIV and had a CD4 count of 195 and Viral Load just above 100,000. Weirdly I felt better for being told as I now knew something was going to be done, unfortunately not a cure but I would be kept alive and healthy and that was where my journey with HIV began.
Daisy – @positivelyme48 on twitter