POZ Stories : Royce Hooper

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February 22, 2013

Royce Hooper

Stone Mountain, Tennessee
Positive since 2010

I have been positive since November 2010 and it was unexpected. I got an HIV test in June and it came back negative. I was so stressed out waiting on the results that I vowed never to take another HIV test.

Three months later, I was out drinking one night and blacked out. I ended up in the emergency room at Grady hospital with a head injury. About two weeks later the police came to my parent’s house looking for me because the doctors at Grady hospital wanted me to go to the hospital to discuss some blood work. I went curious to find out what the blood work had discovered. I didn’t think it could be HIV because I didn’t consent to a test. I thought it was something else and as long as it was not HIV or cancer, I thought I could handle it.

Well, it was HIV. When the doctor told me, I cried and asked why they had tested me without my consent. Apparently when I was drunk, I was combative with the EMS crew and pulled out my IV needle and stuck one of the paramedics. So the hospital tested me for HIV. I would have never gotten tested again. I found out I had HIV by fate. I was shocked, mad and confused but the Veteran’s Hospital got me on meds and I realized that I could live a healthy life if I do what I’m supposed to do.

I strongly encourage people to get tested and practice safe sex because it could be you if you make poor choices. I thought I would never in a million years get HIV but I was wrong. I hope there is a cure one day but until then I’m thankful to have medication that can keep me well. Back in the day that was not the case and people in other countries don’t have the money to get the medication so I am thankful for knowing my status and being able to get the medical help to keep me healthy. I didn’t realize how precious life was until now. Thanks for letting me tell my story.

What three adjectives best describe you?
Hopeful, caring and loving  

What is your greatest achievement?
The time I served my country in the US Army  

What is your greatest regret?
Not living up to my potential  

What keeps you up at night?
Worrying about my problems  

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
The stigma and negative comments that people make about HIV and AIDS 

What is the best advice you ever received?

Don’t live in the past because you can’t change it — concentrate on the present and future  

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?

Magic Johnson  

What drives you to do what you do?
Hope that I can make a difference and help someone  

What is your motto?
Things could be worse — I’m thankful to be living today  

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My family  

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A lion because they fear nothing in the wild and they know how to survive

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