What is it like to find out you have HIV/AIDS?

Posted on August 3, 2015 by drtan

We do a lot of HIV tests. Consequently, we diagnosed a lot of people with HIV. Many people often ask me how they react. The honest truth is it varies.


I have seen reactions from both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.


Usually, if someone is expecting the diagnosis or personally knows people who are living with HIV handle it much better. The people who take it the worst are the people who are completely blindsided by the news.


There was a young lady in her early 20’s whom I had to tell she was HIV +ve. She cried so hard, collapsed on the floor and literally became catatonic. Fortunately her brother and sister were in the clinic with her. However, all we could do was to wait for her to calm down. When she was coherent again, I tried to convince her that having HIV was not all that bad. “It’s not as bad as cancer” I made the mistake of saying. She looked me straight in the eye and replied “I would rather have cancer.” And I could see she meant every word of it.


Then there was this man in his 40’s. He came for a routine HIV test for his visa application. It came as a complete shock to both him and me when it turned positive. Despite the fact that he was completely blindsided by the news, his reaction was stone cold. “Just tell me what I need to do” was all he said.


Then there was this other man in his 30’s. He had a really low risk exposure (1 night stand with a casual partner) and came in for what he thought was a test only for peace-of-mind. When the test came out positive and I told him, he thought it was a joke. “C’mon. This is when someone jumps out and tells me this is a joke right?” was what he said. I had to very seriously tell him that I do not joke about such things.


There is a great thread on the Q&A site Quora where people who were diagnosed with HIV share their experience.


You can visit the thread here: http://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-find-out-you-have-HIV-AIDS


A few interesting quotes:


“ It causes panic and terror at first, then you calm down a bit and try and convince yourself that your case will be different, that you will somehow survive.”


“I try to remember how hard, awful and scary life with HIV was pre-HAART. How this virus killed more than 40 million people, still kills a lot of people inAfricaand other poor countries, and how lucky I am to have access to medicine and live a normal life “


“Imagine my surprise when a foreign doctor looked up at me with the results of a routine check-up (but actually my first blood test in years) and said in Spanish, “your cholesterol is fine, blood pressure good, but it appears that you’re HIV+.” “


The important thing to remember is that there is life after HIV. After the shock and despair and sadness, life goes on. In fact, life goes on very healthily for a long time.


To read more about first getting diagnosed with HIV and what to expect on your first doctor’s visit for HIV treatment, follow these links:


 Newly Diagnosed with HIV click HERE


What to Expect on your First Doctor’s Visit for HIV click HERE