Globally, over 35 million people are living with HIV, out of which 16 percent are not aware of it. HIV is caused due to a wide array of reasons and blood transfusion and sex are most popular.
In an interview with Ryan (Name Changed), a 23 year old student from New Jersey. He shares his experience and how he got HIV.
• How old were you when you were diagnosed with HIV?
I was 19 years old.
• How did you know that something was wrong?
I developed flu – like symptoms such as fever, sore throat and often had fatigue. For a couple of weeks, I thought it as flu and did not pay much heed to it.
In a few weeks, I started having muscle aches and joint pains. This was when I realized that this was something serious. I did a little bit of internet research and discovered that these might be the initial symptoms of HIV. However, nothing was certain right then.
• How did you feel when you were diagnosed with HIV?
I felt terrible. That report containing the result of my blood tests seemed haunted for a moment. That was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I asked god – “Why Me?” I cursed myself and did not step out of my doorstep for several months. My parents were devastated when they got to know about this. They sort of disowned me.
• How did you contract HIV?
I am not really sure about this. I was involved with multiple partners during my high school and that was when it might have got transmitted. One thing that surprised me was that I always used protection and still got HIV.
One thing that I have learnt from this experience is that a protection like condom isn’t a 100 percent safe when it comes to prevention of transmission of HIV.
• Did HIV make you hesitant to start new relationships?
Yes indeed. I am not able to meet girls and interact with them as freely as I used to earlier. Everything has changed. I have turned down one – night stands, abstained from engaging in any sort of a sexual activity with a friend or get into a relationship.
I broke up with my girlfriend as soon as I got to know about being HIV positive, although I did not tell her about the exact reason.
• What changes did you bring about in your lifestyle after being contracted with HIV?
I maintain a very healthy lifestyle and make sure that I stay in a hygienic atmosphere. I don’t stay up late at night and sleep on time. I have absolutely quit smoking and consumption of alcohol.