I was given my diagnosis over the telephone after spending four days in hospital with meningitis. I now realise it wasn’t meningitis, it was an HIV seroconversion illness. I literally couldn’t get out of bed one day and ended up in A&E. I was terrified and alone and I asked if it could be HIV. The ward was overcrowded and no one saw me for three days after an initial consultation except the nurse who told me nothing. Then I was discharged.

I don’t know why, but I knew that couldn’t be the end of it. I went for an antigen test.

After the initial shock of being told that I had HIV over the phone by a doctor, I was in a daze for about a week. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I just sat there most days, not knowing how to go on and wanting to hit out because it was so unfair; it’s not fair for anyone.

After being told I would have to be retested before I could get a place in a clinic, I nearly broke down, I knew I was positive and didn’t want to go through more tests.

Then I got to speak to an amazing senior health worker and things started to change. I left with an appointment to see a consultant and a smile for the first time in weeks.

My blood results were erratic as to be expected and I’m still waiting for them to stabilise, fingers crossed, but I knew all that and I expected it. What I hadn’t expected was the anxiety and panic attacks, the nightmares I had and the lack of breath. It took a while for me to calm down about it and I am not usually an anxious person. These were totally new experiences to me and I was finding it tough. Combined with the dermatitis, fatigue and continual stomach bugs I experienced, I felt like I was falling apart.

I’m not saying all this to cause worry; I’m saying all this because if I’d have known to expect some of this, it wouldn’t have been so hard. Jumping hurdles is easier if you can see them.

It’s been seven months now and for the first time I’m actually feeling okay about it. Obviously I still worry about things, particularly the future, I never felt so mortal before and my long-term health still concerns me, but I feel ok.

I feel ok because I feel like I know what to expect now. I have a different outlook on things. I feel better for knowing my status and I’m making so much more of my life than I was before. I think about where I’ll be in 15 years, not in a bad way, in a good way, I want to have done something.

Help us to support people like Rob and make a donation to NAM today. Thank you.

Finding out

By Mr Turbulence

Subscribe now

Sign up for our free weekly news bulletin.

Find out more and sign up to the full range of aidsmap email bulletins >

Support us

We rely on donations from people like you. Every penny makes a difference.

Donate online now >
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.