World AIDS Day 2014: This is what HIV looks like

Published: November 30, 2014

Hunter Charlton
Original Article:

In a single moment, my life was irreversibly altered. The doctor’s reassurances washed over me in a haze: it was as if he was trying to communicate with me in a language I could not speak. There can be no single correct way to break this sort of news; in retrospect, I think his light-touch approach was misjudged.

At the time, I believed that I would be dead within a decade. Looking back, what I needed was information, a support line, and someone to dispel the grief that was drowning me. At the very least, an info leaflet to tell me that I was not at death’s door. The student-health clinic offered none of these. I left the consultation room consumed by denial but also confounded by a set of newly discovered contradictions.

The acute sensation of feeling absolutely alive and well, despite hearing news of having an incurable, life-threatening illness, was hard to swallow. In this darkened mood, I sobbed in the spring sunshine of a nearby park for what felt like hours. A friend texted to ask how the appointment had gone. I replied that the news was bad; I think he presumed the rest. We went to get coffee and talk. At first, I felt completely disconnected from the issue, as if we were talking about another person. This sense of detachment wore off as the day went on. Facing up to the reality, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have to leave university, how my family would accept me, and whether I’d ever be able to pursue a relationship again.

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