HIVhomegirl tested HIV-positive when she was 19 years old. She didn't know she had it until she became sick and a doctor suggested she get tested. This is her story.
I kept thinking that there must be some mistake. Someone at the lab must have got it wrong. But I couldn't deny my symptoms. I hadn’t been feeling well for a while. In fact, my entire last year at school I hadn’t felt brilliant.
My mom had been the one who forced me to go to the clinic. I was adopted but my mother was my rock - no question.
Two days later we both went back for the second appointment. This was far less scary than the first one. I knew I had HIV and I had spent time with the counsellor. I knew about treatment. Waiting for the results had been most of the stress. There was some strange relief in knowing. But there was more bad news. The doctor told me that my CD4 count was 10 which mean that - not only was I HIV positive - but I had full-blown AIDS.
“A healthy person has a CD4 count of between 500 or 1,000,” he said. “Think of it as a mark of how strong your immune system is.” Mine was 10. I should be dead, I thought. He told me that I was a walking miracle. But I needed help.
He wanted me to start on antiretroviral medication (ARV) that very day. He also said I had to stay in the clinic while they treated me with antibiotics to protect me from infections. My low immune system meant I could catch any bug really easily. I was already sick.
ARV medication prevents HIV from multiplying and destroying your infection-fighting CD4 cells. But can HIVhomegirl fight back with a CD4 count so low? Look out for more of her story as it unravels.
To find out how HIVhomegirl got to this point click on the link below to start her story from the beginning ...