"I was diagnosed as HIV-positive during my first ever HIV test" 
By Nico, 24.

Last summer I started seeing a guy here in London. It was all rather casual, but I saw him enough to believe that he enjoyed being in my company. We would hang out, eat dinner, watch movies and of course fool around. We clumsily had unprotected sex once. Whether it was because it was just something we both wanted or whether we had quickly become apathetic in protecting ourselves against STDs, I’m now not entirely sure. However, after that initial time, sex without a condom just seemed to feel like the norm and we continued as such.

“I was diagnosed as HIV-positive during my first ever test for the virus

It soon became apparent that my affection for him was in fact unrequited. Feeling the burn of rejection as I did, I found warmth in the form of someone that at the time felt far more disposable, with whom I also had unsafe sex. In late December last year, I was diagnosed as HIV-positive during my first ever test for the virus. HIV has now become such a part of my life that to think that there was a time when I was in fact negative is hard to imagine.

However, before being diagnosed, living out my days as a positive gay man seemed equally inconceivable. That is perhaps reflected in the fact that I had never thought to get tested until I was 21, despite having been sexually active since the age of 15. While I had never fully been acquainted with HIV up until my own diagnosis despite having been educated in 3 continents, I did have some knowledge of the virus, albeit basic. This limited understanding could well be reflected in the way I conducted myself sexually nearing the time of my diagnosis.  

“When I found out that I was positive, the feelings of shock and disappointment were delayed

I had moved to London a couple of years ago to start university. When I found out that I was positive, the feelings of shock and disappointment were delayed. The innate feeling of being young and therefore invincible slowly started to melt away. And then reality came, quiet and sudden, cruelly anchoring me to where I currently stand. Here in London, only one other person other than my doctor knows that I have HIV. I do not feel that I can yet tell my family. While they are all very intelligent, they have made off-handed, ignorant comments about HIV in my company. The rage I feel in those moments eclipses my longing to have the support of my family. However, I do feel supported by a recent friend I have made who also has HIV, and I feel that I can lean on him when I need to.

“I feel hopeful

Going forward, I feel that having to accept my diagnosis is enabling me to take better care of myself and to educate myself on other STDs such as hepatitis. Having got past the initial feeling that this is no more than a harsh cosmic joke, I now understand how manageable it all is. And to that end, I feel hopeful. 

Click for more about GMFA's 'Think Again' campaign.