HIV Diagnosis: What’s to Celebrate?
Many of us celebrate World AIDS Day on the 1st of December. But who celebrates their day of diagnosis? I do, and have done so since my virus turned 10-years old in 2014.
By Cindy Pivacic.
Change the way we think about HIV
I am sure some will ask why I want to celebrate my HIV’s Birthday. HIV was, in previous years, regarded as a death sentence. Medical progress has, however, enabled us to change the way we think about our HIV status. The way we think about our HIV status evolves as medical advancements do too. I celebrate every year on the 11th of November. Through this celebration, I know I have survived and thrived through another year. Think about your personal birthday. You celebrate another year of life. I do the same with my diagnosis: bonus birthday!
Celebrating my diagnosis
By celebrating, I remind myself to take care of my immune system, think positively and practice a mindful lifestyle. I also celebrate by either writing or doing something memorable to mark this day. Crazy as this may sound, in 2014, I started to ‘mark’ this day by getting a tattoo. I update it ever year, by dropping the date below my original tattoo to commemorate another year of gratitude.
I chose to disclose
The decision between hiding my HIV status or sharing it to encourage others was an important personal choice. By deciding to share it and embrace it, I encourage others to own their challenges. I chose to disclose and be vulnerable to the potential backlash. Admittedly, it took me six years to open up, but once I overcame the fear, I have not looked back. I decided that if there were negative people, I would not allow them to inhabit my life or my head. I have had nothing but positive reactions in all the years since I began openly celebrating my HIV life. I hope you will consider doing the same. Being silent makes you ill and often prevents you from getting the support you deserve.
A letter to HIV
Below is the letter I wrote to my HIV this year and posted to all my social media platforms. I do this to encourage others to allow themselves to live a confident HIV life.
On this, your 18th Birthday, I would like you to know how much I appreciate you!
You have stuck around for 6,570 days. That is quite an achievement of working together, to make sustainable choices that are beneficial to our survival.
You may have reached your majority, but that does not mean you are not my dependent.
May I remind you that YOU ONLY SURVIVE & THRIVE because you rely on me for sustenance, vitality and a positive mindset? And I am older than you kiddo, so pay attention. 😊
There are certain legal benefits you are entitled to at this age, but you should realise that YOU MAY NOT make unhealthy choices on my behalf.
Remember, I brought you into this world, and I can take you…no wait, that ain’t going to work!
Anyway, you get the message, you look after me, and I will reciprocate.
I LOVE YOU!
What do you do to celebrate?
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