I tested HIV positive nearly three years ago. Here are a few things I’ve learned since then:

  1. There are around 1.1 million people in the United States currently living with HIV or AIDS;

  2. Approximately 156,00 people living with HIV in this country don’t know they’re infected;

  3. I’m one of 85 women over the age of 64 in Kern County CA living with HIV;

  4. The highest risk groups for HIV are men who have sex with men (MSM), IV drug users, and young sexually active heterosexuals, male and female;

  5. As a 70-year-old white woman, I was one of the least likely people on the planet to contract HIV;

  6. Too often, doctors don’t test older people for HIV, even if they can’t otherwise figure out what’s wrong with them;

  7. There are a lot of signs that show up shortly after you become infected, including thrush, candida and flu-like symptoms that don’t go away.

I wish I’d known some of these things before I got sick. I wish I’d known them before my late husband died from what I now believe was AIDS-related pneumonia. I wish everyone knew these things. I wish everyone knew they should get tested, even if they’ve never engaged in any risky behavior.