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Starting a New Chapter in Life After My HIV Diagnosis

When you are first diagnosed with HIV, it can feel like you have been given a life sentence. You may feel isolated and alone. You are left within the whirlwind of your thoughts and emotions. It is a mental and emotional roller coaster of coming to terms with the new reality that you have HIV.

A diagnosis of HIV can be devastating, and bring with it a mix of thoughts and emotions that turn the mind and the heart inside out. Yet in light of one’s diagnosis, the human desire to be cherished, loved and supported cannot be extinguished. They are an intrinsic part of being human. Every person has a desire to experience life’s goodness, with all of its joys and personal accomplishments, shared among family and friends. HIV does not (and should not) have the ability to deprive anyone of these things.

HIV is tricky and can have an overwhelming impact on one’s mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. My hope for someone receiving an HIV diagnosis is that they see it as a starting point, not an endpoint. It has certainly been the start of an important chapter for me.

Though it can be seen as a life sentence in terms of it being a lifelong medical condition, you remain free. This is one of many chapters in your life, with much of the journey — and its conclusion — still to be written. It is a new chapter and a new beginning — of self-awareness, individual purpose and happiness.

Living with this chronic condition undoubtedly has its calm waters and turbulent storms, but it doesn’t define who you are. On your journey through life, you have the power to chart your course. I believe we can turn living with HIV from a perceived weakness into a strength.

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of reflection and prioritizing the things that matter. It has been a period of adjustment and change, so let it be for the better.

Recognize HIV for what it is, but also have the realization that it has brought forth positive change in your life. I know this to be true because I too am HIV positive. With one step at a time forward, let us enjoy this journey together.

The joys, successes and happiness of life await each of us, so let us embrace them!

Getty image by Nadia Bormotova.