August 19, 2023

How I Knew I Had HIV Stories

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that destroys cells that help fight infection and makes people more susceptible to disease. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus moves into blood cells and starts making copies of itself. Over time, HIV destroys CD4 cells, which are critical for helping the immune system fight disease. HIV infection can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which is when the body cannot fight disease, and may cause death.

People process the news of a HIV diagnosis in many different ways and may have all kinds of emotions when they first learn their status, including fear, shock, anger, sadness and shame. But it is important to remember that you are not alone and there are lots of people – experts, peers, advocates and more – who understand your feelings and can help.

Getting tested is the best way to know your HIV status. Testing can help you take precautions to prevent spreading the virus and make sure you are taking the right medicine to treat your HIV infection.

Xavier learned he was HIV positive at age 19. He thought his life was over, but he found the Memphis Ryan White Program and started taking his meds. Now, he works at the program and helps others get the information they need to stay healthy and live their lives to the fullest.

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