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by Noah Murphy
Noah Murphy worried about meeting girls—until he went off to camp.
Hello, I’m Noah! I’m 15 and I live in Toronto, Canada. I am excited to write this article, as it gives me a voice and a feeling of empowerment over something I often have little power over. I have full-blown AIDS. I got it from my mother when I was born, and I’ve known I’ve had it since I was 7. When I was younger I struggled with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), parasites, bronchiectasis, asthma and, of course, the obligatory swollen liver and spleen.
When I was 3, my mother was admitted for palliative care, and I went into foster care. This was in the mid-’90s, when most people were even more freaked out about HIV/AIDS. Child protective services had to make hundreds of calls to find a foster family that would take me. I was scared. But my newfound family were very kind to me, and soon I was my happy-go-lucky self again. They developed a close friendship with my mom in her final months. She died knowing that I was with people who loved me and would be there for me for the rest of my life.
My viral load when my mother died was 1 million, but now, thanks to the meds I am lucky enough to take, it hovers under 500. To the outside world, I think, I appear to be a healthy teen. I enjoy most of the activities my friends enjoy. In fact, despite my health issues, I live a relatively normal life. I have a wonderful family and have great friends who know my status and support me entirely. So do my many brothers and sisters, most of whom are also adopted.
When I first told my friends I was positive, they were filled with sadness and sympathy, not fear. Maybe that’s because they had a very limited understanding of AIDS. One of my friends even said, “So what? I’m lactose intolerant!”
They began to research AIDS and tell me things even I didn’t know. It means a lot that they are thinking about me. Twenty years ago, the public had little information about AIDS, so people reacted out of fear. Sometimes I worry this could happen again—that people could just make assumptions about me and HIV, instead of taking the time to find out the facts. I have also worried that I won’t be able to find a wife who understands my condition—or that I won’t live long enough to get that opportunity. Finding a wife may not be too much of a concern, though, because I happen to be a chick magnet! (Smile.) Every summer, I go to a camp for children with HIV/AIDS, and I can’t keep the girls away! I even met my first girlfriend at the camp; solves the problem of “How soon do I disclose?” My adopted little sister, who also has AIDS, is already thinking about boyfriends—and she’s only 9! I worry about her more than myself, because she has had two cardiac arrests and was in a coma for a long time. Because she was born addicted to crack, she is also kind of hyper. But when she flashes those blue eyes at you and tosses her hair back with her hands on her hips, watch out. We attend the same clinic appointments and take our meds together. I hold her hand when she has blood work done. It is nice to have others to go through this with.
With all the medical improvements out there, I think a cure will be found in my time. However, I always do my part—by sticking to my medication regimen. I hope my story will inspire other positive kids to do the same.
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comments 1 - 15 (of 23 total)
Scott, Florida, 2008-02-25 21:59:46
Thank you Noah. You add a fresh perspective to this dillema we all face called life. I often catch myself hating my life for getting HIV when I was just about 40, but then I also realize that there are those who have faced it sooner in life, like you did. May the sun always shine on your blessed soul and find you always warm and happy amongst family and friends. Thanks for giving me hope.
Mom, Toronto. Ontario, 2008-02-24 11:46:22
My beautiful boy. We are so very proud of you. You are growing up so quickly and have become a fine young man. Twelve years ago, we could never have imagined that you would be doing so well now, even though it was our fondest wish. Your kindness and genuine consideration for others is something we could all learn from. Your mother would be so proud of the person you have become. Kisses and hugs from your family.
Dave, Sacramento, CA, 2008-02-23 22:01:11
Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Noah. Wishing you the best.
Karen Michael, Davenport IA, 2008-02-23 10:47:51
Hi Noah. I find your story very inspiring, and I am amazed at the insite of someone "only 15". I'm 55, and while I am fortunate to be HIV-neg, someone I love is not as fortunate. He was diagnosed HIV-pos in 1/05, and I know his outlook regarding his future weighs heavy on his thoughts. Perhaps your story, and attitude will give him inspirational hope as well. Good luck to you. Karen
Brian W, Vancouver, Wa, 2008-02-22 19:35:52
I smile when I see kids in the same situation as I seem to be more hopeful of their existance. Stories like this prove that you still only limit yourself..the changing world doesn't limit you.
Thanks for writing Noah!!
Rae, Jersey, 2008-02-22 18:27:37
Noah, you are such an inspiration. When I was first diagnosed I thought my life and that of my unborn was over. Like you I met some wonderful people who helped along the way. Six years later I have a healthy child who is the light of my life. Your parents must be so proud!!
Sunshine, New York, NY, 2008-02-22 05:09:09
Noah!! Keep up the great work..You are a star..(Smile)
Yvette Raphael, SA, 2008-02-22 01:15:31
With tears in my eyes i read u story looking after HIV poz kids myself and having lost 1 in Dec i know the diffrence i make by giving them love and care. I am going to give this article to read so they know that a positive attitude and a good outlook on life can go a long way Big ups Noah we love U
Hanna, , 2008-02-21 19:51:07
You're awesome Noah! The only real trouble you're going to be having is picking just one girl at a time ;) and you'll be living a very long life, don't you worry about that!
Tony Diesel, Durban, South Africa, 2008-02-21 15:55:58
Mc Dreamy, you inspire me to continue with my work amongst HIV pos folk here in SA.. and hey.. I too do my bit, as you say... take my meds on time everytime...
If there is any good in having this disease it is that there are folk like you out there that write and tell us all that life can be good while being poz...no matter what our ages..
thanks for that
scott, kentucky, 2008-02-21 15:35:58
Noah-- Thanks for writing this piece-- you're a REALLY good writer! I'm surely not the only one who looks forward to reading more from you in the future.....good luck with everything!
Albert Bray, San Francisco,Ca., 2008-02-21 14:38:15
Hey Noah, your funny,smart and hopeful. Truly you are a breath of fresh air and a chick magnet. I hope to see more of your writings. My best to your cool family,later bud
Craig Chappelle, Boise,,ID, 2008-02-21 13:57:22
I'm a long term survivor of HIV (24 years), and an HIV/AIDS activist in Boise ID, USA. Thanks for sharing your story, keep that healthy point of view, and know that are SO many of us who love you for speaking out. Love to you, your sister and your family. You rock buddy !
Claudia Silva-Trigo, Montebello California, 2008-02-21 13:07:41
Wow,you are truly an awsome kid and young adult!!! Your foster family is very lucky to have you. Your story is full of inspiration and I hope that young people--wheter HIV+,or not--will read this and realize that life is precious. Keep up the good work Noah!!!
Adam, Toronto, 2008-02-21 13:00:39
comments 1 - 15 (of 23 total)
Hi Noah! Truly an inspiring article. There are many children and youth in government care across Ontario who would benefit from reading this! Would love to include this in an upcoming youth in care newsletter or on the youthcan website! Thank you for sharing this!