How’d I get here?

Posted: June 27, 2010 by Jesse in HIV
Tags: , , , , ,

Who I am

Well I guess I start by introducing myself, and the reason I have decided to create this blog.

My name is Jesse and I’m a 22-year-old gay guy with HIV (I’ll get to that bit later).

I grew up in Canberra, Australia; literally in the same house until I was 17 years old, at which time I moved to Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast, before returning to Canberra some 10 months later. I tried to stick it out in Canberra again but at 20 I decided it was time to get out. I have lived in Brisbane ever since.

Coming out

I came out to my friends and family at age 16. Like anyone who has come out, I have had both good and bad reactions. I have a strained relationship with some of family members and I have lost people I once referred to as friends based on my sexual preference. I guess this is all a part of the process of ‘coming out of the closet’. Overall I found my ‘coming out’ experience to be the most liberating experience of my life thus far. No longer living in fear of what people would think, what people would say… fortunately I realised at quite a young age that it didn’t matter – as long as I lived my life the way I wanted to.

Receiving bad news

Almost 12 months ago I went for my half-yearly sexual health test, just to be sure all was good. The following week I got an all clear result and went on with life as normal. Exactly a week later the rollercoaster ride began – I got a call from the doctor advising there where some concerns regarding my tests and to pop back in ASAP. 15 minutes later I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery with my then boyfriend (only a few weeks in), terrified as to what was waiting for me behind the door.

The doctor advised me that there was reason to believe I may be experiencing a sero-conversion to HIV and that I would need to have another test done 2 weeks after the original test date to obtain a conclusive result.  I was totally devastated. Like a lot of people, I had taken the occasional risk, but in the last 6 months had made an extra attempt to do the right thing – only slipping up once. That’s the reality of this virus… it only takes one time and you can be infected.

So I got another blood test done and anxiously awaited the results. In the meantime I contacted the person of concern and found out he is HIV positive.

This moment was a bit surreal for me, he was more upset then I was… I was just thankful to have some kind of closure. Within the week I had my next appointment with the doctor and was given a HIV positive result.

At this point I would like to stress that I do not hold the person who infected me responsible for my infection. I agreed to have unsafe sex and did not ask him what his status was.

Telling my family

I made the decision to inform my family almost straight away and went to Canberra for the weekend. This probably comes across as a bit strange considering I have a strained relationship with some of them. The reasons I decided to tell them were:

a) My mother already knew and I didn’t think it was fair for her to carry the burden of knowing my situation but having no one to talk to about it – I wanted to tell people about this myself, not hide behind someone else doing it on my behalf; and

b) I wanted my family to understand why I was no longer going to be the one to maintain the fragile relationships I already had with some of them – I felt that it was time for me to live my life without feeling obligated to carry the responsibility of one-sided familial relationships.

People say that telling your family you have HIV is as hard as telling them that you are gay… I would have to say I agree. I guess part of the reason I decided to tell my family was because I was hoping it would help repair our fragile relationship. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and things are as they were prior to me telling them.

Telling my friends

I have told some friends and overall they have been quite accepting.  Some freaked out a bit though, and I no longer have any contact with those that are unable to be supportive of my situation… which, as hard as it is, makes me kind of thankful that I am no longer friends with them. After all, if a ‘friend’ can’t be there to support you, who can you really rely on?

Searching for Support

I started searching for support organisations and found that there are limited support networks available. This is the reason I have decided to put this blog together. I am hoping to help others in the same situation.

Where I am now

There have been some really tough times in the past year, but finding out I was HIV positive really put a lot of things in my life into perspective. I am able to let go of a lot of anger I had toward people – over what I now recognise as quite petty things.

I look at this as a chance to get out in the community and educate people on HIV and what it is. I have done various research assignments on HIV at school, so already have a reasonable understanding of what it is, however I am really shocked by how many people know nothing about it.

I have had some struggles. It has been quite a ride!

However, with the support of some amazing friends I am now starting to feel like my old self again. Better then that, I can offer some help to people who are infected with HIV and can educate those who aren’t, and urge them to take the appropriate precautions.

Hope in Vastitude

Through this blog, I intend to provide links and various tools to give newly diagnosed people some assistance in researching and understanding this virus. Currently I have a HIV PowerPoint presentation and a tracking sheet I use to record my results at home, which then converts them into a line graph for easy tracking and self management. You can find them in our Handy Tools page – please feel free to use them for your own needs.

Thank you

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Hopefully it has been able give you some help. If it hasn’t, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to see what I can do.

A special mention and thanks must go to Richard, Krista and the rest of the team at The Well Project. These guys have been so supportive, and I obtained much of my research from this site. Please take the time to visit them, they are a fantastic organisation with a great supply of research material. Keep up your great work guys

Cheers,

Jesse.

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Comments
  1. J says:

    Hi Jesse,

    I just want to say I’ve taken the time to read your blogs and its really made me think. For starters I’ve always been one to bury my head in the sand and have often thought how I’d handle such news. I often wonder if I’d even tell anyone at all. As far as I know I’m negative and have checkups on a regular basis but I’ve been living my life without a care or thought as to what could harm me, especially more recently.

    I’m probably one of the most naive people you could ever meet. I see hot guys all the time who inform me that they are negative and we should go without protection. After reading your blogs I won’t be so naive in the future. Your words have certainly come at the right time.

    Reading your blogs has made me think hard. Not just about myself but about the guys I have sex with. I feel like I’m playing russian roulette and I know one day the gun will be loaded and I won’t be so lucky.

    Your stories have made me realise that it can happen and that I shouldn’t bury my head in the sand. Worse still if something happend to me I could end up infecting someone else and that would be devestate me more than my own infection.

    I just want to thank you and that you’ve made me think seriously. I’ll be looking forward to your next instalments.

    J x

    • Jesse says:

      Hi J

      Thanks for the message!

      The most important thing I am trying to get across through my blog, is that there are always people who are going to be there for support. This is a pretty fucked up disease, but they are coming so far with medications etc. It isn’t a death sentence anymore however with the capabilities that this virus has to mutate and develop resistance to medications etc, it frightens me that the community no longer takes it as seriously as it should. The whole idea of casual bareback sex is incredibly frightening when you look at how many people either don’t disclose their status, or are unaware as they are too scared to get the test done and ‘assume’ they are okay because they haven’t had a recent test, yet have been participating in risky behaviour.

      I would like to see guys playing safe when participating in casual sex and still getting regular sexual health tests done.

      Bareback sex, especially with casual or multiple sex partners IS a game of russian roulette. and like you said – one day that gun is likely to be loaded.

      If you are the only person that this message gets across to then I know that I have achieved what I wanted to through Hope In Vastitude.

      Jesse

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