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Author Topic: I'm Negative and New  (Read 2437 times)

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Offline NegativeNub

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I'm Negative and New
« on: March 20, 2008, 11:21:27 AM »
Good Morning Everyone,

I am new to this site, and from reading the stickies, I'm not really sure how welcome I am being that I am negative and confident in my negative status going forward (i.e. not obsessed with the idea of contracting not vulnerable of the idea of slipping up in the future with regard to my sexual activity or drug activity which isn't even a possibility to me--God willing I won't come across any less common, less risky ways of becoming positive), but in order to figure out my position here if any, I'll just post my story, and see what kind of feedback I get.

I'm a 23 yr old African American lesbian who was tested for the first time this Tuesday, via a Rapid test. For quite a while I've known about the risks of contracting, but really ignored them, as I didn't feel like I've ever really put myself at risk, even though the only sex I've had has been unprotected and with women, although infrequent, say twice (just blatantly stupid reasoning I know. I'm getting better with those skills).

Anyway, I was watching the Logo station, and saw a movie, I think it was called 26 days, I can't be sure. In any case, I started looking up symptoms just out of curiosity and ran across the swollen glands part. I'm scheduled to have my tonsils taken out because the swelling hasn't responded long term to penicillin, which is kind of unusual (I would have thought mono, but penicillin would have made me break out into hives if I had mono, as it has happened to me before and is a common effect says my GP). Then I noticed the swollen glands under the arms part, and this was a huge red flag for me. Why? Not because I had it (never have), but because my psycho ex girlfriend claimed to have had them. I believed her especially because I saw scars under her arms, which could have been anything. But I started freaking out, particularly because my ex was and is a compulsive liar. We had a long distance internet relationship, where these circumstances are more typical, but she really had me going, as reasonably intelligent as I've thought myself to be. I would venture to say that everything she's told me was a lie, and the only vulnerable part of that argument is that I don't know of anything true about her other than that she lies. I guess you could just say I don't know her...even after a year of dating. Anyway, I had sex with her when I visited, about 2 years ago. And I remember her pulling back as I was about to perform OS.

Still my dumb self insists, and the rest is history. We ended up breaking up several months later because I had finally realized that nothing about her seemed true or genuine after a while.

Fast forward 2 years and I'm thinking about those scars I saw. and the fact that she claimed she was sick....by what? who knows? But I'm thinking..and thinking.. and by the next day, I was scared to death. Why did I never think about getting tested?? What an idiot I am? Especially because I have a current girlfriend, who I've insisted we get tested before we go any further intimately. Such a dummy. So I was terrified for all of 24 hours and frantically got myself to a clinic and was relieved to know that both of us are negative (we got tested together). And I feel like we are in the clear now. Finally. Except...

we had a discussion the other night about protection. Even though we are quite committed and trust one another, is it ever really okay for us not to use protection? Our guess was probably not. And here's just a general question, is it ever smart for monogamous couples to not use it? Ever? I mean, I'm fresh from reading about our New York governors and LT governors, and I think it's a prime example of why we can't. But maybe I'm missing many other insights. But I'd like to see what I can learn here in this community, if I can.

I've been fascinated about learning about HIV/AIDS, and I'd like to become a supporter and advocate, but more than that I'd just like to learn so much more about all of this. I hope it's not too much trouble for me to hang around here and ask questions and engage you all in dialogue. I respect your situations, and I don't want it to seem like some kind of outsider who is trying to be "in." It's just that I'm interested in people, from all walks of life, and this is by far, just from reading your stories, some of the most well spoken, versed, and genuinely understanding a positive-minded people I've encountered, however vague that encounter is since I've only read your words. But those words have been powerful, and real inspiration to attack this life with a deafening speed and unrelenting will to learn, love, and relate.

I hope to hear from all of you soon.

-A. :)

Offline NegativeNub

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2008, 12:44:26 PM »
I'm sorry but I don't think this topic belongs here. Can someone tell me why it was moved here?

Offline RapidRod

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2008, 01:19:12 PM »
Really it doesn't belong anywhere since you know you are negative and you just received a negative result.

Offline NegativeNub

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2008, 01:43:05 PM »
Fair enough.

Just wanted to be clear on my position here (even though I posted this originally in the off-topic forum), and it's clear now that I have no position here, regardless of how interested I am to learn about and from survivors and the virus/disease itself. Seems like a lot of people come here to talk about sex safety (or un-safety) and likelihoods and whatnot (perhaps unwelcomed), so it's probably a good idea that I seek non-poz message boards regarding my interests and concerns.


Offline RapidRod

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2008, 01:59:57 PM »
There is plenty of Lessons that you can read to advance your knowledge. But as for having a chat channel type forum there isn't one here.

Online Andy Velez

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2008, 05:54:42 PM »
Or for instance, you might volunteer with an AIDS Service organization and put your interest in learning to dynamic use by being of service to others.
Andy Velez

Offline NegativeNub

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2008, 11:43:37 AM »
I thought I’d post one last time on here just to share some perspective about this forum, this section of the forum, in particular.

I’ve been following this site for the whole week, post my first HIV test, and I thought it a welcoming place for those concerned about the HIV virus, although I recognize that it’s more geared in the direction for people living with HIV/AIDS, which is completely understandable and comforting, I’m sure, for those who are living with the virus/disease.

I admire the fact that principals of this board opened up this section (I am Infected?) to invite people to ask questions about risk, which is, really and truly, beyond the scope of their general forum-wide audience, but it is still all the more helpful because they are advocating awareness. This all goes to show that you don’t have to go to an event to get insights. But I wonder, is this particular section of the forum’s intent really that basic? Maybe us negative folk are better off getting information at a day long awareness rally. I’ll explain.

With exception to a few cases that I haven’t come across yet, most of the people in this section appear to have either been negative, or would be negative if they had gotten a test done. The forum leaders make that point abundantly clear. They take the time to reiterate that point many times over, despite the fact that some very troubled/frightened negative individuals seem beyond the scope of forum advice. Not many people would have that kind of patience. Kudos to them for that. However, it seems to me that negative individuals really only have the opportunity to ask their questions, get their answers, and leave: doesn’t at all seem like the kind of place where you can come and engage in dialogue periodically (without hostility) about contracting. And maybe that’s because HIV can only be spread but a few ways, but what I think the leaders fail to acknowledge enough is that the statistics are not REALLY what people are interested in. We aren’t really concerned about the probability but the possibility. Almost all things are possible though, which is why it’s easier to address questions with statistics. I hear ya on that.

 But whatever the likelihood is, I would never advocate to someone that they are at “no risk”  and have “no reason to get tested” which is what I see slung around this section far too often. Condoms or not, when you have sex with someone there is always a risk of contracting an STD, practically speaking.  Condoms may have been proven to fight off the passing of the virus, but only when used properly, which is to say that there is NO deviation from the “proper” way of using a condom—a very objective experience, whereas to me, intercourse  seems very arbitrary and subjective, as most people who engage in sex likely don’t  1-for-1 use it “properly,” mainly because they don’t approach sex in the safest way possible, most of the time. We kiss people, most of the time, without knowledge of what the other person has going on in the mouth, and we move forward into intercourse after we’ve already touched something we probably could have avoided under ideal circumstances. And the rest is history. So, to me, just your average joanne, I don’ t think that a small probability can be deduced from safe sex simply because safe sex is an ideal that I would think only few people engage into in a perfect way. The very fact that people come here to unload their non-perfect sexual scenarios is proof enough. And I wouldn’t be surprised that their coming to this forum to ask these questions is precisely because they recognize this the same as I do.

My point in saying all this is that it’s one thing to know your intended audience and it’s another to know the kind of audience you’re drawing. When it comes to folks and their sexual experiences, the possibilities are endless. Anything is fair game. So any one of the people who come into this forum and who, truthfully, has not been tested could be positive, which I think is something you are all aware of. And some of them who have tested negative could be positive, however unlikely. The point in saying this is simple: getting tested is a major psychological experience. No one wants to face their own mortality so when they are forced to do so with an HIV test, it does wonders on a person’s peace of mind. Becoming positive is an experience in itself, I’m sure, but just going through the motions is one too. Some of you who have only tested positive, probably wouldn’t know this. Just like I wouldn’t know about the experiences of a positive person. So I find it a little offensive that so many  HIV- people, even the ones without the constant questions and “unnecessary” worry are told “congrats and such…get on with life” and/or “seek professional help because we can’t help you here if you have further concerns” and “we can’t engage you in conversation beyond that of assessing your risk based on your story” when in fact poz folks are more than welcome to stay here and get support even though both poz and negs went through a serious gut check. And someone will respond, because this board is intended primarily for poz folks, and I’d have to agree.

Why venture to open up a section of the forum which attracts more negatives than positives if you’re only going to run them off? This is a medical forum so I understand you want to be careful about the information that is shared but shouldn’t we also have the right to discuss our own tribulation with regard to HIV/AIDS? If so, we’d be more likely to do the further research, we’d be more likely to be able to speak from a more informed perspective if we stuck around here where HIV/AIDS is the only relevant topic of discussion. Don’t you think?

I was put off by the fact that I asked a general protection question, and I got no answer at all. It seemed relevant, and I think the HIV awareness community would be particularly versed in the response, from both a practical perspective and a technical perspective. But it seemed like you all were more concerned about the fact that I was negative and not concerned about the prospect of a false negative result. And maybe it was just all a misunderstanding. I dunno. Just speculating. ???

In any case, this entire experience has influenced me to try to get an HIV- board going where people who have been tested negative, but still struggling with this whole gut check can talk openly about our concerns and can encourage, just like you all do here, safe sex and good understanding about leading a healthy lifestyle.

I am quite grateful for having come across this board to see how many people are genuinely concerned about leading an informed life. It forced me to approach the topic of sex with a very critical eye at all times and to realize that even while risks may be low, that they exist practically all the time, so it’s worth discussing and researching at length under all circumstances.

Peace and Blessings Everyone.
Knowledge is Power  :)

And Happy Holidays :)

Online Andy Velez

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2008, 12:07:15 PM »
Good luck with your plan to get an HIV negative support site going. I'm for following your passion and putting  it into effective and useful action. Which not incidentally is how this site came about.

I am not going to get into a point by point response to your comments. However, I will say that we don't talk about "safe" sex here. We talk about SAFER sex, which is quite different. Anytime someone has sex with another person there is at least a theoretical risk of HIV transmission. However, experience and science have again and again confirmed to us the very limited ways in which transmission does happen. As you've been reading the threads I will not go into those details again now.

You're dissatisfied with the responses about false negatives. The fact is that as long as someone is tested at the recommended time, bearing in mind some very few exceptions which we mention, then false negatives have been proven to not be an issue. It's the occasional false positive that occurs and that is why any positive is always confirmed (or not) by doing the western blot, which is specific and sensitive. As someone who's been here from the start I cannot recall a single instance in which someone who tested negative at an appropriate time ever came back to us to say they were actually HIV positive in relation to what originally brought them to the site. we've had very, very few worriers actually test positive. Based on what we're told, if there is any doubt about what they've done in terms of risk we always advocate for testing and provide support relative to the waiting period. 

What does come up again and again in relation to those who are not satisfied with a negative result are personal issues such as infidelity, sexual shame, religious prohibitions and obsessive compulsive disorder, among others. For them the issue is only nominally HIV through which jitters they are expressing other concerns. We learned through experience from the earlier times with the site that unless we set some boundaries we would become flooded with those kinds of situations. We're not doing therapy here although hopefully sometimes our responses are therapeutic.   

We  recognize what we can responsibly respond to here and what we can't. It seems to me that you want us to take on responsibilities which experience has taught us are not appropriate nor sensible in this setting. Which is where your site comes in. If you see a lack here then that's what you can focus on and perhaps meet a need which don't.

Good luck to you with your site.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 12:17:17 PM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez

Offline Ann

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Re: I'm Negative and New
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2008, 09:35:14 AM »

While we might tell some people that they don't need to test over a specific no-risk incident, we do recommend that everyone gets tested regularly. If you've read many of the threads in this section of the forums, you've probably come across the following:

You need to be using condoms for anal or vaginal intercourse, every time, no exceptions until such time as you are in a securely monogamous relationship where you have both tested for ALL sexually transmitted infections together. To agree to have unprotected intercourse is to consent to the possibility of being infected with an STI. Sex with a condom lasts only a matter of minutes, but hiv is forever.

Have a look through all three condom and lube links in my signature line so you can use condoms with confidence.

Anyone who is sexually active should be having a full sexual health care check-up, including but not limited to hiv testing, at least once a year and more often if unprotected intercourse occurs.

If you aren't already having regular, routine check-ups, now is the time to start. As long as you make sure condoms are being used for intercourse, you can fully expect your routine hiv tests to return with negative results. Don't forget to always get checked for all the other sexually transmitted infections as well, because they are MUCH easier to transmit than hiv.

This applies to you and your current relationship. If you want to do without condoms, then you and your partner should be monogamous and you should test together.

As Andy has mentioned, this forum deals with risk assessment and testing information. To delve deeper into some people's issues would be outside our remit and actually not very responsible of us. We do what we can and recommend to people that they see their doctor or therapist when we cannot help them further.

Good luck with setting up your own website to fill in what you see as gaps in this website.

Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts


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