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Trust Your Body

Stories Of Promise

I’m from Norway. I grew up in Broward County, FL. I am a 33-year-old white gay male. My first time sharing a needle, I contracted HIV. I knew the risk was there. I wanted to get high.

I was sober for several years before I was introduced to meth. By the time I turned 28, I was fully engaged in substance abuse and using meth frequently. I found out I had HIV in jail in 2019. I agreed to be tested because there was a possibility that I could be HIV positive. I was participating in risky behavior and sharing needles before getting locked up.

A nurse was doing blood draws on inmates to test for HIV. I told her that I had shared needles a few times while in active addiction. The nurse suggested that I should most likely get tested for that reason. I took the test, and my results came back positive. In a follow-up doctor’s appointment, I found out I had AIDS. I also found out I had tuberculosis. I stayed in jail for 5 months and was linked to care immediately.

My initial reaction when I first found out I was positive was that I’m ok with it. I knew that it wasn’t a death sentence. I think that was why I was more willing to share needles and be risky because I knew that I would be ok if I was positive.

I was told if I took my medication daily as prescribed, I could achieve viral suppression and become undetectable in about 6 months. However, within 3 months, I was undetectable. The doctor even said, “I have never in my life seen someone respond so quickly to medication.”

Once I was released, I was back on drugs and my numbers were terrible. I would lose my medications. I had no transportation to pick up my meds. I wasn’t going to the doctor as often as I should have been. Nevertheless, I was motivated to stay on my meds because I didn’t want to give up on my health. I didn’t want to pass HIV on to someone else. I also couldn’t trust myself while high to share my status with others. Therefore, I needed to make sure I stayed on my meds. I have been undetectable and consistently adhering to my meds since 2020. My regimen is that I take my meds first thing in the morning at the same time every day.

Today, I’m staying safe by taking my antiretroviral medication and using condoms during sex. I have been drug-free and in treatment for 4 months. If I were to advise someone newly diagnosed, I would say to trust their body and make sure to disclose their status.

Broward House is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

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Tel (954) 568-7373 ext 7373

Email: info@browardhouse.org

 

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