December 1 is celebrated around the world as World AIDS day. Leading up to, and after the day, there is an increase in the number of messages related to HIV education, diagnosis and treatment that are aired. A lot more persons talk about the virus and people get tested to know their status. Compared to the early stages when many misconceptions were popular being HIV-positive is less frighten; in that more information are available, support groups and medical research to help you live positive.
A few years ago, 2006, I met a young man who was living with HIV and interviewed him for the Sunday Gleaner’s Outlook Magazine. The story published on December 10 was my article of marking World AIDS Day that year, I wish to share the article with you in it entirety or you could read it at its original location by clicking here.
The acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS) are threatening Jamaica’s future as scores of young people fall victim to these deadly diseases. More frightening are the statistics indicating that scores of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are contracting the virus.
Today, Outlook Youth has decided to shed some light on HIV/AIDS in the form of an interview with someone living with HIV.
Meet 27 year-old Alan,a normal-looking young man, who lives a relatively normal life except that he is living with HIVfor over three years.
Alan, who is not promiscuous, said he was rather surprised when he learnt that he had the virus. “I’m not the promiscuous type. I had expected that to happen to someone else,” he revealed to us. “But that is just how life is.”
According to Alan, everything started out with some minor health problems which he began to worry about. After several tests returned negative, he was advised to do an HIV test. “At first I refused, as there was no way in this world I thought I could have it because I was a faithful partner,” he told Outlook Youth. “Then I remembered when my girlfriend and I had some problems, I had a fling – so I decided to do the test ’cause there was nothing to lose, I thought.
“When the results returned, I thought they had got the samples mixed up, and then when the second test confirmed the first, I was even more stunned than the first time. At that moment, it was as if I was in another world, I didn’t have time to think and again I said the result was wrong. The doctor assured me that it was right and that I needed to accept the truth as that was the only way in which I was going to move forward.
“What was I to do now? It was the end of the road. I thought that there was no hope in life and all had ended. It was best that I had been run over by a truck,” Alan said.
“I knew I had a close-knit family but what would they think? I asked myself. Life was now filled with a lot of questions and doubt. But somehow I would have to reveal to them that I was HIV positive so it was best to do it now,” recalled Alan.
When he revealed it to his family, they were shocked and had a lot of questions for him, some of which he had no answer to. However, they stood by him through everything. According to him, they were the ones who, perhaps, kept him going when he thought of giving up along the way, either by suicide or other means.
Today, Alan, despite his condition, is working assiduously to promote healthy lifestyles amongst youth and other age groups. He believes that being infected with HIV has opened up doors for him and has allowed him to see things in a different perspective.
His advice to teens is, “having sex is fun, but when you have a death ruling and life is limited, that can be depressing … if you can’t withhold, make up your mind to use a condom always.”
Today, Alan is pursuing his dreams by completing a course in psychology.
Name was changed for confidentiality.
- World Aids Day: 25,000 people in the UK don’t know they have HIV (independent.co.uk)
- State health officials to hold Twitter chat to mark World AIDS Day (onlineathens.com)
- On World AIDS Day, Here Are Five Huge Advances We’ve Made To Combat The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic (thinkprogress.org)
- SLIDESHOW: A Visual History Of World AIDS Day (queerty.com)