A blonde nurse in her early forties with braces on her teeth entered the room. With nervous energy, I said “hi!” She looked at the sink beside me and mumbled something about a TB reaction test that was needed. She stepped forward with a syringe in her gloved hand. As she took hold of my arm and stuck the needle in my skin, she was trembling. I thought she must have a condition that caused her to shake like that. As she pulled out the needle she handed me a band aid and turned away. I said “thank you” as she silently dashed out of the room.
When the doctor came in, he told me I had tested positive for HIV. There was a long silence…I looked away and then to the sink. The only thing I could think of was of the nurse with braces. She didn’t have a condition; she was shaking because of the HIV. She was terrified of it. She was terrified of me because I have it. Is that what I am now…something to be feared?
This was my first interaction with someone who knew I was HIV positive.