AskReddit is maybe the one and only place on the internet where users can feel safe to ask anyone about anything. Seriously, when we say anything, we mean anything. Whether you want to know what it’s like being a twin, what the most offensive movie ever made is, or what secret could tear your family apart, AskReddit is the home of answers.
Last week a new topic popped up on the site, asking Reddit users with HIV or AIDS to share their experiences with in the forum. They were encouraged to explain how they first realised they were unwell, and how their diagnosis has since affected their lives. The answers were incredible, ranging from life-affirming to cautionary. Here are a few that stood out for us:
I was actually born with it, 26 years old now. I’ve been taking medicine all of my life and didn’t know why. When I was 10 at an appointment, my doctor asks “would you like to know why you take medicine?” Of course I wanted to know. I went in to years of depression wanting to die my CD4 count was only at 27 while the viral load was over 300,000. I never wanted to take meds again. Now I’m 26 and I see that I’m one of the lucky ones and it’s not a death sentence. It also has made me more humble and open minded to other people. I also appreciate life more and those unluckier than me more.
I went for a sexual health checkup and they caught it very early on. It made the treatment much more successful at halting the onset of AIDS. Sorry to disappoint you with a not very exciting story but… I can’t recommend regular checkups enough. I had had unprotected sex with one person a while ago and was moving into a new relationship so I thought I should. Almost didn’t bother.
I was diagnosed at birth in ’88. My mother did not know at the time, she found out at the same time. She never hid anything from me. At age 7 I started working on both state and federal levels fighting stigma, raising awareness, and advocating for the rights and welfare of all positive people. Happy to say I am healthy. Sad to say its been a long road. Love kept me going amidst the hate. Stay strong folks! Take your meds! Seek services! Live YOUR life!!!
I heard through the grapevine that someone I had slept with had tested positive. Went in, got tested, got the bad news. That was more than 20 years ago — for a long time I was convinced that diagnosis was my death sentence. I felt like I had a ticking time bomb inside me, I felt dirty, I felt like a bad person who would never have a relationship again. Fast forward to now: I’ve been married for years, I have (healthy) children, I’m in perfect health and for the last 8 years or so I’ve been taking one insanely expensive fixed-dose combination drug a day that, so far, has kept me in undetectable viral load territory.
However, my HIV status is my biggest, darkest secret. Virtually no one in my life aside from my husband and doctor knows that I’m HIV+. It’s a condition that doesn’t affect me physically at all, but it continues to impact my self-worth to this day.
I got really sick. It was like the worst flu of my life. My mother came and took me to the hospital, where they asked if I had been tested recently. I had and told them I get tested every 6 months. They sent me back to my mothers with a months worth of bactrum. I am allergic to bactrum. We did not know this at the time, which made a month of me getting even sicker.
Eventually, I got better and just thought “meh, people get sick sometimes.”6 months later, I got tested, it was positive. A second test confirmed it. At the time, I felt perfectly fine. I got treatment and, after getting used to the medication (it was hell, but there are much better options now) I was fine.
Don’t let the results scare you. I’m in a long-term relationship. We sometimes forget I’m even positive. Every morning, I take what looks like a big, green vitamin, and with the same side effects (none). and I’m just fine. Get tested. It takes no time and not only can save you, but it can save others you have no intention of harming.
It all started when I kept throwing up. I would feel nauseous and get head rushes where i would nearly pass out. It would sometimes happen on the road as I was driving. It was very scary. I eventually went to the Doctor and received a diagnosis and treatment. I haven’t told anyone except my sister. It’s been hard. I feel like i’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. I still to this day don’t know how I got it. I’ve never had sex, i’ve never come into contact with blood.
Hey everyone. Male 22 here.
I was diagnosed at the age of 19 and have been living with HIV for three years now. My symptoms showed very quickly as a serious flu. I was bedridden with a fever for days until the doctor finally ran some tests. I will never forget when the school nurse said my test came back positive. I will never know who exactly give me the disease but it was through sexual contact without a condom. Please use protection when having sex or make sure you ACTUALLY trust the other person. Nowadays (as a gay young adult) you would be less likely to get the disease from someone who is medicated and undetectable than from some random person who doesn’t know their status. A lot of people don’t know their status, please be careful.
As to how it affects my life? It has changed almost every part of my life. In retrospect, it has completely unhinged my education path and physical/mental health. But on the flip side, I possess a keen ability to persevere through whatever comes my way. I also hope to remain an advocate for HIV education and reduced stigma.
In my opinion, knowledge really is power when it comes to this disease.