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Sann – if you love yourself, practice safe sex

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Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

I am a teenager who likes to have sex with a different partners and mostly I do bareback... I’ve been testing for HIV every three months, but last time I moved abroad to work for six months. After that I came back to my country – I got work and had friends and family stay with me as usual.

One day I felt something red on my body and on my arm, a kind of rash, so I went to the clinic to get checked out. The doctor said I had an allergy and gave me some medicine. A few days later there was no change so I did some research about the signs and symptoms of HIV. After that I went back to the clinic for blood tests and also to test for HIV.

I was really scared to find out my results. When the doctor told me that I was HIV positive I was really shocked. My mind went blank and I couldn’t move. ‘What am I going to do’? I thought. I tested for HIV three more times just to make sure but the result was the same. Once I knew I was positive I got really upset and felt down every night. I started looking on Instagram for people who have experience of living with HIV. I chatted with one guy and he cheered me up a lot. He also told me about his experience of antiretroviral treatment and taking care of himself.

I feel so relieved now because I know that I can live a long and healthy life with treatment, but I still haven’t told my family. I tell myself that the right time will come rather than just saying it out loud.

My message to anyone reading this story is, ‘If you love yourself, practice safe sex.’

Sann was aware of the benefits of regular testing and had been testing for HIV every three months. Though he was scared to find out his results, he took the brave step of getting tested which meant that he could get on treatment and stay healthy.

*These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes. Some names have been changed to protect identities.        

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Last updated: 26 September 2019