Global Efforts to Eradicate HIV

Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

Have you ever woken up and realized that everything you held close to your heart started to slip away from your fingers? That was how I felt when my family found out that I was HIV positive.

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The Backstory

Here is a little backstory about me. I am the eldest of four children. Being a first-born, my parents expected me to be practically perfect. They said that it was the only way for me to become a positive example to my younger siblings. Although they had an old-fashioned view of the world, I valued their opinion so much, so I did everything they said that I should do.

For instance, in high school, I wanted to study at a public school because all my friends were there. But Mom said, “No way! You are going to St. Mary’s All-Girls School,” and I did not get another peep. When I asked if I could go to UCLA because they had an excellent science program, Dad said, “No, you will study at NYU. It’s closer to home.” Again, I did not protest. In my mind, being an obedient child was good.

gaining-family-support-after-hiv-diagnosis
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But then, once I started going to college, I became friends with the wrong crowd. Before the first semester ended, I knew how to smoke weed, drink, and party as if tomorrow would never come. Of course, I had a string of hookups, too. The nuns at my old school would freak out and probably say that demons possessed me if they learned how many guys I slept with.

I did not mean to lie, but it ended up that way. When they thought I was with my study group, I was actually at a bar with my fake ID, flirting or making out with some hot guy. Sometimes, we would go to the guy’s place. Other times, we could only reach the bathroom inside the bar. Yes, I was super wild.

gaining-family-support-after-hiv-diagnosis
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When The Diagnosis Came

When the diagnosis came, I was barely out of college. I applied for a job at my father’s company, and they required a full-body examination to ensure that everyone was fit to work. I stopped smoking weed two years before that, so I thought all my results would be squeaky clean. However, I did not stop hooking up with different guys now and then. Hence, once the doctor tested me for HIV, I turned out to be positive.

The first person who saw the result was my father. I asked him to bring it home since I would be coming over for dinner on that day. I was even excited to go there because Mom cooked my favorite foods. But when I opened the front door, a hard slap on the face greeted me.

I wanted to get angry because I felt wrong, but I could not say anything anymore when my dad shoved the paper in my hands. If only the ground could swallow me in that instant, I would have preferred it instead of meeting my family’s accusing gaze. My parents did not ask the specifics and made me leave, and I did. However, I regretted not begging them to interrogate me because it felt like they already disowned me.

gaining-family-support-after-hiv-diagnosis
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Gaining Family Support After HIV Diagnosis

It took me some time to get over the shock. Although I wanted to smack whoever transmitted the disease to me, I did not have any way to reach them, considering they were are one-night stands. I went to the doctor to figure out what I should do, and I could not help but cry when it sunk in that I had a sexually transmitted disease.

Who would have thought that a Catholic school girl like me would ever get HIV at a young age?

As ashamed as I was, I called my mom to ask for forgiveness. She was super tight-lipped at first, but when she heard me cry, she voiced her sentiments. She said, “How could you do this to us? We thought you were our smartest child. You failed us so hard.”

I wailed again through the phone, and Mom invited me to come over and talk to Dad. I felt scared to do it, but I had no other choice. I made the bed, so I had to lie on it now. I thought that whatever they would tell me, I would accept it because it was my fault.

gaining-family-support-after-hiv-diagnosis
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The conversation went better than I imagined. My parents calmed down after telling them everything that happened to me in the past years, and they expressed their disappointment. Then, they made me move back home so that they could take care of me. The doctor said that I would have to be under medication for a few months, and they did not want me to be alone in my condo.

I knew that part of the reason was that they wanted to make sure that I stopped my promiscuous habits, but that’s okay. As long as I gained my family’s support, I would not do anything stupid again.

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