By an Anonymous Mother
November 21, 2010 was like any other day. Two of my three children came for a visit. We were so happy to see them. After a day of working outside we’d gone upstairs to change into clean clothes and within a few minutes, there was a knock on the door and there stood our two children. As they entered our room, our 21-year-old son had tears in his eyes and our daughter was staring at the ceiling and not making any eye contact with us. We didn’t know what was going on but we suspected it wasn’t good. We knew that our son didn’t have a pregnant girlfriend as he was gay. Right away we asked what was wrong, and he announced he was HIV positive. At that moment our world collapsed. The only thing I knew about HIV/AIDS was from RENT and I collapsed onto the bed and wailed like someone had died. I could not lose my 20-year-old son. As we held each other, consoling each other and eventually calming down, we moved into what do we do now mode. At this time my son and daughter explained that there are new treatments and that things now are very different from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
We tried to eat dinner but no one was hungry. When our son went up to bed for the evening, I went to his room to say goodnight and that all would be ok. At that moment he started to cry and said, “I don’t want to die.” I told him that wasn’t going to happen and we would get him the best possible medical care available.
Within a few days we were sitting in the office of Dr. Kaminski in NYC. He was very knowledgeable, calming, reassuring, and upfront about what our son’s treatment would be. He explained the treatment and told us that our son’s life expectancy would not change based on his diagnosis. Relying on our visit with the doctor, we moved on with a positive attitude. Tests, tests, and more tests followed, and we finally received an answer as to our son’s treatment. One small pill a day was prescribed. This will continue for the rest of his life. He continues to see a doctor and leads a very healthy lifestyle.
Now, 11 years later, he still only takes that one little pill and is as healthy as a horse. His blood count (including T-cells) is better than that of most people without HIV and his illness is now completely undetectable.
While all this sits in the back of my mind sometimes, other times it pops to the forefront of my brain that my son is HIV positive and that it will be held against him in certain situations (applying for life insurance, long term care insurance, etc.). I panic when thinking about the fact that his illness is going to make it hard for him to be accepted and not be ostracized because of the stigma of HIV. Nevertheless, we are blessed with a large circle of family and friends that are accepting and LOVING.
I still pray every day for a cure. I know it is out there, and hope it will be available within my lifetime for my son and everyone else diagnosed with HIV.