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I'm Lilly and I’ve just been given my diagnosis a couple of months ago. I'm 20 years old and I don't know exactly how or when I got the virus as I have never had any distinctive symptoms or conversion illnesses however I have my suspicions on my first love boyfriend when I was 15. I have been with my current partner for over 3 years and until now had never used protection, I feel grateful that he is still testing negative.
My initial reaction to the diagnosis was complete and utter shock...how could I get HIV? How could this happen to me? I am going to die! Although I was reassured by my health advisor that there has been progress and I would live hopefully a \'normal\' life, visions of AIDS patients did not stop crossing my mind. I cried non-stop for the next few weeks, my appetite disappeared, I was not able to sleep, I did not want to go out, got severe headaches and basically wanted to end it there and then.
My partner has been great in helping me get through this time, I have not told my parents as yet out of fear that they will disown me, or worse, making their life a living hell. Although I still get times when I break down and cry, I am beginning to feel slightly stronger and more couragous. I have joined a few support groups and have realised I am not alone, and this illness does not fit any stereotype- everyone is at risk, not just MSM, injecting drug users or people of colour.
I am not on medications as yet as my CD4 is still slightly above 350 and my viral load is relatively low. Every night I pray to God that they may find a cure to this terrible disease, but I must also acknowledge that yes, medications have come a long way and some doctors go as far as to claim that under the right circumstances ( adherence to treatment, time of diagnosis etc) one may expect to live a normal life expectancy. I cannot speak for all people who are positive as I have not experienced the medications yet, however for someone who has just been diagnosed I would say, calm down first of all and do your homework, make sure you learn as much as possible about the illness and choose the right doctor. For females, make sure you request a cervical smear as HPV is very common with HIV infected females and if caught early, the abnormal cells can be removed safely.
I believe God is giving me the strength to carry on and I will continue to better my lifestyle in order to minimise the chances of me getting sick.