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‘How my boyfriend infected me with HIV’

By Faeza
10 August 2016

Hopeless writes:

Unhappy woman lying in couch Unhappy woman lying on couch

I am 26 years old and my ex-boyfriend is 29 years old. We dated for three years before breaking up. I recently discovered that I am HIV positive. It was so random and so unexpected, I almost fainted from the shock. I tested before we started dating, and my results were negative, so I was not worried when I went to get tested again recently. I didn’t even think I might be at risk.

After I got the results, I sat for days, not knowing how to even bring it up with him, only to discover that he knew all along and obviously infected me. He even had the nerve to tell me what medication he is on, saying that I should also try it. I was negative when I met him. I swear, I would never have suspected that he had it in him to keep such a secret. We were intimate without using a condom but not once did he warn me.

He is a church-going guy and if you saw the way he carries himself, you would never suspect that he would keep such a secret that has affected my life. He has apologised but I feel like dying. I hate him for not being upfront, and feel like my life is over. How do I move on?

Linda Yende responds:

I understand your anger and frustration. It was totally selfish and inconsiderate of him to knowingly have unprotected sex with you while infected with the virus. And there is no doubt that you have every right to hate him. However, I would like to suggest a change in focus.

LIVING WITH THE VIRUS

Focus on you. Focus on healing. Focus on being healthy and keeping yourself and your mind strong. HIV is not a death sentence. Many people are living with the virus and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You just have to focus on you. All the energy that you are currently channelling towards him, you need to channel towards yourself.

PURSUE YOUR DREAMS

First of all, you need to start living as though you intend to live forever. This is something we all should be doing, but now you have even more reason to do so. Live healthy, eat healthy, be healthy. Pay attention to your diet. Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. Cut down on processed foods and avoid junk food. Stay away from smoking, drugs and alcohol. The mind is a very powerful thing. If you focus your attention on healing, being healthy and staying alive, you will find yourself staying healthy.

But if you focus on the doom and gloom, and go on as if you are already at death's door, that is when you will get sick. Whatever you focus your energy on, you bring yourself closer to it. Take back your power. Focus on living a long and healthy life. Similarly, attack all your goals, your dreams and aspirations with passion. This negative experience can, in fact, be a reminder to you that we do not have an eternity on this earth. Live life to the fullest. Pursue your dreams and develop a sense of urgency in your pursuit of life and happiness.

SEXUALLY ACTIVE

Remember, the more you focus on internalising this, the more powerless it makes you. Without turning it into a pity party, or beating yourself up, you need to acknowledge that you also had the responsibility to ensure that you remained protected. Particularly in a relationship where you have never gone testing together, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to make sure that we are protected.

You can never tell if a person is HIV positive or negative by just looking at them. HIV affects everybody. It does not discriminate nor does it automatically depend on a person’s lifestyle. If you are sexually active, then you are at risk. Yes, people with multiple sex partners do expose themselves to more risk, but the truth is, we are all at risk and must protect ourselves.

RECLAIM YOUR POWER

So, all I would like you to do is take ownership of the situation. Accepting your part of the blame, and accepting that you were equally responsible gives you back your power. You need to reclaim your power. Acknowledging that you got your life to the point where it is also gives you the power to say, 'I got myself here, I can get myself out of here, too'. When you keep on being a victim and focusing on what he has done to you, you are absolutely powerless to move forward.

Put yourself back in the driving seat of your life. Focus on living instead of waiting to die. You will outlive many HIV negative people! There are many people who didn’t see the light of day today. There are many who will not see tomorrow. So really, every day above ground is a good one. You still have a lot to contribute to this earth. I have many HIV-positive friends who have chosen to live positively.

They use their experience to educate others and to dispel myths and break the stigma around HIV. It is not a death sentence. Just remember, the choice is yours, how you want to touch people’s lives. You could save many people’s lives by educating people about safety.