On this day five years ago my life was changed forever. It was on Wednesday 24 April 2002 at 7:30am I got a call from my doctor saying the blood test had come back and that he had to see me. I said to him, "It's positive isn't it? Otherwise you wouldn't call me." To which he replied, "Yes but I'm not supposed to tell you on the phone." I went in at 11:30am to see him and he told me that I was HIV positive (HIV+).
He gave me the phone number of the Aids Medical Unit and told me to call them when I got home. However, he wanted me to have a second blood test before I went home and by the time I went home it was after 12 noon. The Aids Medical Unit closes at 12 noon on a Wednesdays and the next day was a public holiday (ANZAC Day).
My whole world fell apart around me. How was I going to tell my mother? I had sinned by acting out my homosexuality and now God had judged me. All my hopes and dreams of being free from homosexuality and getting married died that day. I was very depressed and very suicidal. I had no idea who to turn to. I couldn't tell my mother so I did the next best thing and told my pastor's wife, Mary, the next day.
The next day was Vagi's 21st birthday and an international dinner at church. I went to it and although I was a total mess on the inside, no one knew because I acted as if nothing was wrong. On Friday 26 April I started work at 7:30 am at my retail job. I went to my car in my morning tea break and found that the Aids Medical Unit had finally called. I told the only person I could trust at work, Tracey, a supervisor and she told me to go. I left work and called the Aids Medical Unit and they told me to come in. I was a wreck by the time I got there.
It was the following Monday that my mother and I went for a walk along the Brisbane River and she told me that a friend of hers gave her a book to read called He Intends Victory by Dan Wooding, a book about Christians living with HIV. I knew that God was preparing her for the news and He was showing me His mercy when she said that she had Wednesday and Thursday off from work and couldn't understand why God wanted her to have that time off. I knew why she had to have that time off. My heart was racing a thousand miles per hour as we spoke but I couldn't tell her then. I had to wait for Wednesday.
I told the Aids Medical Unit that I will be telling her so I told her on Wednesday. She wanted to go for counselling, so I dropped her and picked her up when she was ready. I told her that I was sorry and I asked her to forgive me and I got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me as well. That evening my pastors came home and she broke down and cried.
Sometime later, we went together to meet my doctor at the Aids Medical Unit and she asked if she had to keep a separate knife, fork, spoon, mug etc for me and they said no, as she was afraid, and we didn't know anything about HIV.
Five years later......HIV has changed my life forever. It has given me a purpose to live for, a vision, a dream, and I'm excited about my future. God used me to start the HIV ministry on the Gay Christian Network and I helped many people in the HIV chat room. Since leaving that ministry, I have started my own group in Yahoo groups called Hope Is Vital (Note from Mary: no longer active) and I have gone back to university and I'm studying to be a social worker. I'm starting my job placement on 30 April at the Ethnic Community Council of Queensland and will be working in HIV education and prevention. They want me to start a HIV+ support group for ethnic people.
My dreams and goals are becoming a reality. I'm getting comfortable with the fact that I'm HIV+, and I'm not suicidal anymore. I do get sad on this day because a part of me died, but I rejoice in the new me it has made me. Yes, I'm HIV+ now. I have to be positive and live what I am.....a positive person!!
HIV wasn't God's judgement on me. It was the result of me having unprotected sex and expecting God to protect me, instead of doing what I can to protect myself as well by using condoms. I have to act as well and let God do the rest, not be foolish and yet expect Him to protect me. Wow, how I've changed. Look what my God has done in me. He has made me stronger through this. I'm better not bitter. I'm alive with passion and purpose, vision and dreams, and a mission to spread the Good News that God still can turn scars into stars.