September 14, 2007
Today I have spent most of the day on the phone counseling a new HIV positive person that I am mentoring from the website www.poz.com
It reminds me how hard some people that it went they first find out they have HIV. This person lives in a very small beach community and feels alone, scared and isolated.
It's been so long since I found out that it almost felt like I was finding out again as I was listening and empathizing with them. Their loneliness due to lack of a local support system that could help was crushing them. I refer people without support to national HIV blogs, websites, on-line support groups, and AIDS Service Organziations. I am more than glad to lend an ear when needed. I remember when it was done for me.
There are several stages someone can go through when finding out their HIV positive as with any life altering experience:
Some will go through some steps more than once. Some may skip a step or more. Each person's discovery experience is different. No one way is right or wrong.
I personally can tell you that after the initial shock (I had been in what I thought was a monogamous relationship for several years.), then a month or two of denial after getting out of the hospital, trying to bargain with the universe, getting angry with the universe, and then finally decided to take charge of the situation and educate myself and get treatment.
After I had become proactive about treating my infection, I noticed something. I had been concentrating on my professional career working up to eighty hours a week for several years. My HIV infection made me sit down, face mortality and decide what was really important to me in life.
It helped me to start really "living life"... not just existing to work and have things. I started pursuing my hobbies again; photography, activism, camping, hiking, my pets. I started taking time to stop and "smell the roses" both literally and figuratively.
I hope that if you're reading this and you have just found out that you are HIV positive... YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Reach out when you're ready.
There are resources to help you through this time:
HIV support groups, AIDS Service Organizations (ASO), Infectious Disease specialists, websites, trial study facilities, and other resources willing to assist you on your journey.
There are social functions in most states at least at the state level where the HIV community comes together for activism, education and social outreach.
Contact you local ASO, Dept. of Heath, or Child and Family Services for agencies and resources in your area. Other resources and website located on our HIV links page.
Wishing all of you a great weekend.
BIG BEAR HUG