Transcript: Video Interview: David Richards
Diagnosed with HIV in 2006
David Richards: I'm 33 years old and originally from Trinidad.
I originally found out my HIV diagnosis in 2006. I suspect that I got the infection earlier that year and I found out I was positive by going to a local, gay clinic to get myself tested-that's where I got the results.
When I first found out my mind was initially blank. I didn't know what to think, what to do and then after that different feelings just stared flooding in. I felt angry, anxiety, sad, upset and tried to figure out where to go from there, what to do, and what was available. And I even questioned how long I would live. There were just so many different emotions at that point in time and trying to even contain those feelings while sitting there in front of a complete stranger was definitely a challenge for me.
There were several things that I looked at in order to try to understand more about HIV: I basically depended on my physician for information and I asked a lot of questions. I also did some research on the Internet and I relied as well on friends who also are HIV positive for information, feedback, resources, so that I had different avenues to go through for support and direction.
Initially, I told my significant other and then that was followed by a few close friends and then after that was just my core family. Beyond that I haven't told a good percentage of my friends, nor have I told a good percentage of my family-and that is still the situation. I haven't brought myself to the point of disclosing any further and whether or not I'll get to that point and whether it will take me two years, three years or maybe five years to get to that point, I'm not sure. Only time will tell.
In the short period of time that I've know about my diagnosis, I've come to realize that basically life moves on-nothing has really significantly changed in my life, I mean, I'm still the same person. I'm still healthy, still alive, still going strong. I just have to learn to live with [HIV]. I rely on the advice that a friend of mine gave me, which was basically that you just happened to have the virus, but you're still the same person so just continue life as normal.
My advice for anyone who is newly diagnosed-as it is a great weight on one's shoulder to carry that information-is find the support that you need. One of the things that I did was to disclose to a few friends who were very close to me to get that support and structure. If you feel that weight is still there, seek other sources such as a support group. I went to a support group and it's a very good resource because you understand that you are not alone.
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