Johnís Thoughts On The Disease
HIV is scary, not only for those who know they are infected, but for everyone.† No one is immune.† Okay, so there are some very rare cases where a person has been found to have a natural immunity to the disease, but these are EXTREMELY rare, and it probably isnít you or me.
However, if you fear you have been infected and are terrified, it may help to stop to consider what it is about HIV that scares you so much.† Is it fear of getting sick and dying?† Is it the stigma attached to the disease?† Is it a fear of a possible lack of future intimacy?† Is it guilt over whatever you did that you feel may have led you to be infected?† Is it a fear of taking tons of drugs for the rest of your life, which have terrible side effects?† For me, it is ďyesĒ to all of the above.† But, once you realize why youíre afraid, you can make steps to control the fear and not let the fear control you.† It is good to be afraid of HIV.† HIV is frightening, and if you have a healthy fear of it, you will take steps to protect yourself.† Donít let the fear control you though.†
Go out and have sex!† Sex is a wonderful, healthy and necessary part of life.† Just remember, for the same reason you wear a seat belt when driving or look both ways before crossing the street, you must protect yourself during sex.† Also remember, being HIV positive does not mean you are a dirty or horrible person.† It just means you obtained a disease.† You donít feel dirty for getting things like the flu, a cold or chicken pox, so donít feel that way about HIV.
If you are waiting out the window period, do whatever you can to get your mind off of it.† Obsessing over the possibility will only lead to stress, which will cause physical manifestations you will automatically attribute to HIV.
If you chose to have risky sex, that is your decision.† It is up to each person what risks they are and are not willing to take.† We take risks every day, some large, some small.† If you, for example, feel that the risk from oral sex is low enough not to use protection, then donít use protection for oral sex.† Just be aware, there may be consequences to your actions.† Ultimately, you are the only one responsible for your actions; you cannot blame anyone else.
At the same time, if you do happen to slip up, donít beat yourself up over it.† We are all human, and we all make mistakes.† The goal is to keep those mistakes to a minimum, and remember, HIV is not an easy thing to catch.† Conditions have to be right, so one slip up will most likely not lead to infection.† Be open and honest with your partners and never let someone convince you to do something you know is unsafe.† Your life is more important than their approval.
If you happen to find someone who is HIV positive, donít turn him or her away outright.† HIV positive people deserve love as much as anyone else, and if you keep your wits about you, you wonít get infected.† They usually donít want to infect you anymore than you want to be infected.†† Not to mention, the average person who knows they are HIV positive will probably be more of an expert on the disease than most doctors.
You may notice, I never once really mentioned monogamy or celibacy.† Letís be realistic, although those are ideal, they arenít often practical.† It takes time to find a special someone you want to be with forever, and many people donít even want a person like that.† Not to mention, letís be realistic about something elseÖmonogamy doesnít always happen like expected.† People do cheat.† You may think you trust your partner not to cheat on you, but do you trust him or her enough to bet your life on it?† If you honestly can answer yes, then by all means, throw away the condoms and have fun, but if you have any doubt, isnít it better to be safe than sorry?
Obviously, Iím not one to judge anyone based on his or her behavior.† I, as the rest of the human race, am fallible, and have made mistakes myself, despite the fact that I knew better.† I have wrestled with my feelings over the risk I put myself in, and tried for the life of me to figure out why I would behave so recklessly.† A psychotherapist would probably have a field day with me, but I think Iíve finally come to the conclusion that I screwed up, and I donít know why.† If I sit around focusing on why I did what I did, I will just drive myself further into insanity.† It is best just to accept that I made a mistake, and luckily I didnít get infected.† All of these statements sound nice on paper, but I very easily realize that itís easier said than done.† Ignorance is bliss, but unfortunately, Iím not ignorant about this.
If you are going through a hard time, whether it be with HIV or some other life issue, remember youíre friends and family will be there to support you.† Drive them nuts with your anxiety, thatís what theyíre there for, as Iím sure youíd realize, youíd do the same for them.† If they truly care about you, they will not turn their backs on you, regardless of what happens.† If you do not have a strong network of family and friends, or if your problems are too much for your family and friends to handle, turn to professional help.† These people are trained on how to help you, without judgment.