Hi, I’m Rohit Malik. I’m 30 years old and I’m sharing my story of how I got infected with HIV and what happened next afterwards. I was dating a guy and we usually do bareback. I knew the facts and the risk of getting infected by bareback sex, but I didn’t take it seriously.
A few months later, I got sick and was in hospital for a week. At first, I thought it was nothing serious. I took leave so I could rest well and get back into shape. But when I got back to work, people noticed that I started to lose weight. I didn’t mind it, but then I started getting coughs and colds quite easily, which lasted for months. I was also experiencing night sweats, some swollen lymph nodes behind my ears and on my neck, as well as a prolonged fever. I knew something was wrong. Then I started reading all over the internet about common signs and symptoms of HIV, praying that I didn’t have it.
My doctor suggested I go for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV. I met my counsellor, who conducted the pre and post-test counselling for me. We waited for 2 weeks to get the confirmatory result. While resting at home, I got a call from her and she told me that they had gotten the results.
We talked for a while before opening the letter. She handed it to me, and I was praying, even though I already knew the result. As expected, the result was positive. I felt numbness all over my body — I started crying. I thought it was the end; I felt devastated.
The counsellor called my mom and gave us time to talk. I handed the results to my mom; seeing my mom crying while reading the result tore me apart. I was ashamed to be open about my condition due to fear of embarrassment and humiliation. I was also repelled by my own past actions. I was so angry and resentful at having to keep the truth away from family and close friends. Every time I lied about my condition, it hurt more.
I also had to deal with lifetime medication that was giving me mood swings, lightheadedness, body rashes and insomnia. It’s depressing, but on the bright side, the antiretrovirals suppressed the virus inside me from multiplying. Also, the skin lesions on my body from Kaposi’s Sarcoma slowly but surely decreased in size and hopefully will fade away with patience. I sought help and started treatment. The doctor told me that I would have to take this medication for the rest of my life or until a cure is found. HIV treatment is free here at least.
After a few months, I was recovering little by little. I was able to go back to work, and now I can say that I’m getting better. A friend once told me: “You learned your lesson the hardest way! But I’m happy that you’re coping.”
I don’t take what happened to me negatively; it won’t do any good for my health. But moving forward, I’ve learned to love myself more. I’ve learned who my true friends are. Especially, I’m happy with the love and support that I’m getting from my friends and fellow people living with HIV. There is always a life after an HIV-positive diagnosis.
Don’t forget what happened to you in your past, cherish it, and learn from it. Do not regret what happened. It may not be easy. I know, but for all, we know this will always serve as a reminder to live our life to the fullest.
I think life has given me another chance. I now do what I can to inspire myself and others through these battles. For anyone out there affected with such a disease, please love yourself and never give up.