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 I tested positive in 1992 three years through a bachelors degree. I dropped out and focused on enjoying the time I had left. I basically retired at age 20. I spend a lot of time thinking about what might have been if only practiced safe sex. Does anyone else feel ashamed of having HIV? Its taken 20 years for these feelings to come to the surface. I didn't die but wish I did sometimes. I've never amounted to anything and probably never will. I feel like I am a constant source of shame and embarrassment to my family. I also am bipolar so my options are really limited. I live on the minimum on disability and have a life of being old, poor and sick to look forward to. My point is that HIV didn't kill me physically but it did damage that is really just catching up to me now twenty years later. It is an ongoing life long trauma.


   Hi PhillyPinko ,
                            It's nice to meet you  :)

     Those are some deep questions . I have at times looked back and talked
to my self and said things like :  " Gee you threw away a four year full scholarship "  , because I was so  out of my mind . I worked hard to get where I was going and when I arrived I was like it that all there is to a scholarship  :-[
  I am lucky the road I traveled allowed me to swing up and down , as the Mind swings to flying high to dragging the pits of hell .
  I hope You try to be happy , You'r still very young . I know nothing of your health   .   But if you are not terrible sick now I will assume you will be that way 5 years from now . That has been my goal with HIV / AIDS , to assume in five years I will be in the same shape and go from there !
  As for feeling you are a shame to your family ?   I'm thinking your low self esteem is playing on that , unless they are telling you otherwise .
  Do I feel ashamed of having AIDS  ?   YES I DO !    Nothing can bring back the carefree days of not having a BUG that screws up the Body and Mind ! You are not alone on that !  If people wish to pretend they do not have HIV , Yes I may be accused of that at times , I try not to dwell on the past , and If I do I work on remembering what was good ! No need to dwell on crap , sorry ,it's the way it is !
  As for amounting to anything , I worked 60 hours a week until my husband of over thirty years (  NON - POZ )  moved to a very secluded Ozark Mountain town , Pop. 57  :o
  I used to feel I was in control , We could do whatever we pleased , now I'm Thinking if I chop a tree down and make firewood I have had a full and great day !  It is all in perspective . I have relatives  and a few friend that are the 1% and I find them really to have the same issues I do .
 So after more than 30 years with HIV I still do not think it ruined my life ! I do think possibly being bi-polar ,And I do not like to use that because mood swings IMHO are more of what we do not do , I.E. exercise , Get out and see people , enjoy what we see etc.   
  I hope you are seeing a psychologist or other form of GOOD ways to talk to people that listen !   A day with a person that can absorb your feeling is a day of sunshine ! 

                                  Be well , Weasel

  P.s.  Feel free to PM me , I love to chat  :)


I am not really sure what to say, but I can relate to the shame/blame game. In my case I have had many friends who I had already lost to this disease and I knew all about safesex, to make matters worse I was in a longterm monogamous relationship (but I was not being monogamous). Not only did I become positive, I lost my best friend and husband.

I guess what I am trying to say is yes it's hard, but to quote someone else on this forum (I don't remember who it was but the words give me some comfort, so to paraphrase) "we are all humans full of flaws". So give yourself a break, as for feeling like you have never accomplished anything you have fought this disease for 20 years, quite an accomplishment!

I will also add I am a firm believer that it's never to late to follow your dreams. I recently went back to school and became a nurse (I had always wanted to be a doctor but at my age compromised) that after over 20 years of first starting at the university, also one of my fellow classmates who truly inspired me was 70 and did the same thing.

Big HUGS to you my friend I hope these feeling pass!

Andy Velez:
Philly, you can't undo the past. And knowing that can be painful to see and to accept.

But you do have now, today. Even in very poor circumstances financially it might be possible for you to get some education and improve your circumstances. There are agencies and other sources available to you if you are willing to reach out. Believe me, you're not by a long stretch the only guy in such circumstances. Don't think about it too much. Reach out to AIDS Service organizations for instance and see who might be able to help.

My guess is you are still a relatively young guy -- 40 or so right? Man, you can have a lot of great time ahead of you. Reach out, reach out!

Keep us posted on how it's going.

Hi Philly,

Thanks for taking time and having the courage to write. All your concerns are valid.

It made me reflect on whether I myself regret or feel shame about HIV/AIDS. I can't honestly say I live feeling regret. Although I tend to be discreet about sharing my HIV status and how it has affected my life, I am not ashamed.

I was diagnosed HIV+ in '89, in my late 20s. I didn't know how much time I had. Before then I had already dropped out of college (music) because I wasn't sure what route I wanted to take, and had gone out at found a new career elsewhere.

After HIV worked long and hard, mostly to make sure I had good health coverage and LT disability coverage (which I eventually needed). I also found my way back to my first love, and regained professional status in that area. Ultimately I went on disability from my second career. But I have been able to continue and come full circle with my first love and area of specialty. And through all this I've been through the ringer with HIV, health effects and drug regimens.

My point is, I have regrets about lost opportunities, either because I held myself back because of my own perceived limitations, or the real effects of HIV. Every human being has regrets about what they did or didn't do. EVERYONE does, HIV or not.

But I can't live with regret about being positive. It is a fact of life. It has changed who I am and what I do with life. But I have had remarkable experiences when I let myself go and be hopeful and happy and explore.

As Weasel pointed out, you are fortunate to have good treatment options. Take advantage of your youth and resources if you can. Look, you probably won't have a lightbulb moment when it all becomes clear to you, but know you are OK, you have a life to live, and you have a world to explore. Be gentle with yourself.


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