This is a clever social media campaign: In a project called "You've Got This," Healthline, an online health community, has asked people who have been living with HIV to create videos for those who have recently tested positive. Think of it as "It Gets Better" for those with HIV.
Of course, I had to create a video in my own loving and funny way, something that demonstrates the sense of humor that has served me well over the course of 30 years of living with HIV. Maybe my video will help someone you know.
To be honest, I barely remember testing positive in 1985, when the test became publicly available. (My doctor and I estimate that my infection occurred as far back as 1981.) I was already self-medicating with a growing drug addiction. It was Los Angeles, I was young and stupid, and people started dying. Cocaine seemed like a reasonable response at the time, and the test result felt like my license to continue using.
Today it's hard for me to recall a time when I was afraid of becoming infected. I only know a life with the virus, and my fears of HIV itself are long gone. So I should probably approach any advice for the newly infected with care. They are experiencing a profound event that happened to me a lifetime ago. I hope my light touch will give them a needed lift or bring them a smile.
It's easy for me to make the mistake of assuming that new infections only happen to younger people, and I even make an apologetic joke in the video about my being "old." The fact is that most new infections in the United States happen to people over 30, not under, so we might want to check ourselves when we bemoan infections among "these kids today" (although of the various age groups with new infections, those under 30 are the largest).
To participate in "You've Got This" with a video of your own, visit the Healthline site for details.