Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

HIV Story

In Keeping hope alive, The worst of times on September 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm

hiv5

In June 1996, late one morning, John decided to have a blood test for HIV.

Two weeks before July 4, 1996, John went for his test results.

The doctor stated the test was positive.  John was confused about ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’.

At that moment John ears became mute.  He couldn’t hear anything, no sound, he could only see the doctor’s motion of opening and closing his mouth.  Finally, the doctor realized that John was not listening to him, so he got up and came around to where John was sitting and spoke, touching John on his arm.

“John”, the doctor said.

John looked up, bewildered, shocked.  The doctor stated in order to confirm, that he was sending John for a different test.

John’s mind was in overdrive now, wondering how long before he dies.  Leaving the doctor’s office in a state of panic, John was still determined to follow up on the doctor’s orders.

During this period, there’s a lot to process for John. What comes into play is John’s medical coverage, but primarily at the moment, the test results upset John very much.  Being connected to a verified clinic for HIV patients was essential.  Also trying to stay focused is the key to it all.

John did research on his own into HIV. Some things he read frightened him. Even though he was terminal.  It was recommended that John see a psychiatrist.

Sessions started, John spoke of the stigma around the disease. He wanted to talk to people, to help him understand what was happening.  His therapist advised him to think objectively about decisions and give himself time to process what occurred.

In 2001, John began to write creative writing at a NYC AIDS Center.  It was quite rewarding to be among fellow writers who may or may not have been experiencing the same as he was.  John continued writing and attended his therapy sessions.  Creative writing allowed John to write about his denial, disclosure, and stigma, and to allow his feelings to be put into words.

To become mature about HIV, can take days, months or years but if you persevere and stay focused, you’ll do just fine. This is something John realized after months of therapy/psych, and by taking his HIV medication, which was not an easy decision at the time for him.

It sounds so strange to hear someone say to you – “give yourself time.”

John didn’t know how long that would be, how much time was needed. John reminded himself that what was most important at the time was to have the PRESENCE OF MIND TO BE TESTED.

Some articles John read were very encouraging at the time of his diagnosis in 1996.  John’s experiences during this process were to take his meds as prescribed by his doctor. He came to realize that his relationship with his doctor was about more than just meds – his relationship with his doctor inspired confidence and trust. Keeping his doctor’s appointments became very important to John.

As the years passed, John’s immune system changed mentally and physically for the better.  In general, over time, John became more adaptable to his status as an HIV person.

Now in 2013, John is doing well, looking forward to a lovely spring in New York City.

By Fred D. Street

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