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Living with HIV personal stories and experiences

Learning that you are HIV-positive can be one of the most difficult experiences you go through in life. You may feel scared, sad or even angry – this is OK, and a completely natural part of coping with something that can be life changing.

But remember, HIV doesn’t have to stop you living a long, happy and fulfilling life. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live as long as the average person.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be living with HIV. Ultimately, everyone’s lives are different – how you cope with your diagnosis and how you move forward will be unique.

Read these stories about some people’s experiences of being diagnosed with and living with HIV.

If you have your own story to tell, you can share it with us here and we'll do our best to publish it. Just let us know if you’d like to remain anonymous.

Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply the health status or behaviour on the part of the people in the photo.

Next full review: 
30 June 2019
Image of an Eastern European young man smiling
‘I know you’ll hear this a lot but I can confidently say that it’s not the end.’
Image of a smiling African woman eye contact
‘If you take your meds HIV will not kill you’
Image of a smiling woman
'I was constantly educated about HIV, but trying to understand it was so hard.'
Image of a young black woman in a warehouse
‘I still cry but I don’t allow my status to stop me working towards my goals in life.’
Image of young black woman with braids wearing a beanie
‘I was under other pressures at home and at school but my biggest fear was failing my new treatment.’
Black and white image of a young Iranian male looking to camera
“I was very scared when the counsellor told me that I was HIV-positive and I cried.”
Image of a black woman_urban setting looking to camera
“To anyone reading this: I want you to know that there is no rush at all, tell people when you feel you’re ready.”
Image of a Hispanic woman in an urban setting looking to camera
"I still worry about my responsibilities but I know that taking my medicine is the best thing I can do."
Image of a black woman exercising
"I’m the first to admit that growing up with HIV positive parents was agonising"
Image of young Asian man in hoodie
"I was ashamed to be open about my condition due to fear of embarrassment and humiliation."
Picture of a smiling mum and baby
“The tester was so amazing… telling me he'd known people living with HIV for 25+ years. I latched on to those words.”
Image of Latino man looking thoughtful
"Forgiving myself was the first step to starting treatment, but it was still the hardest decision for me to make."
Portrait of a woman smiling at the camera
“It was my faith that got me through. I decided this would not ruin me.”
Image of white man looking pensive
“I have learnt a lot about myself since my diagnosis and how I deal with things; I have become more headstrong.”
Color portrait photo of a happy smiling blond haired man in his forties wearing a blue t-shirt against a blue sky backround.
'Living with HIV undoubtedly has its calm waters and turbulent storms; but it doesn’t define who you are.'
“I am still very quiet about my status to my friends. But otherwise, I don’t let my HIV affect me in any way. I am a normal teen."
Colour portrait of a young man smiling in an urban area
"I've started treatment and although I still have sickness I feel that I will be ok."
Image of black middle-aged man in fedora laughing
“I still go in for my routine therapy every two months but that’s the only thing that has really changed in my life.”
Colour portait of a young woman standing in front of a white wall
"Even today it still hurts but I am going strong no matter what."
Image of smiling white male youth
“My point to this is find some sort of positive support from the time you find out until the time you can rely on yourself.”
Young man smiling with blue wall in the background
‘Now I cope with this new life, to extent of advocating for it.’
Image of thoughtful male youth
“I tested HIV positive in August 2012, when I wanted to join the Nigerian Army… I was dumbfounded.”
Portrait of a woman at home
‘Now my daughter is 14 years old. I’m healthy and she's healthy too.’
"I’m happy with the love and support from my friends and family. There is always a life after an HIV-positive diagnosis."
Man smiling against colorful graffiti wall
‘I want to take care and begin to love myself.’
Handsome young african man
"The day that I disclosed to my brother was through text message, because I didn't have the strength to face him.”
Thinking African lady
"I speak about it… it’s how I’ve managed all these years and lived a normal life”
Portrait of a mature man
"I gave up my bad habits and started having my family in my life more than ever before.”
Young African woman
"Do not be scared… You can live a healthy life if you adhere to your medication – I have never fallen sick since then.”
A woman looking pensive
“During my first year of work, the organisation and I faced discriminatory remarks because they employed a drug user to work.”
Young man smiling
“I felt that if I told someone that I was positive, they would judge me and wouldn’t accept me. So I kept it a secret for more than 20 years.”
young Indonesian man looks to camera
“The hospital I was about to start working at refused to hire me after I disclosed my HIV status."
Man sitting down and smiling
“At that moment I knew I had lost my job and I almost went mad, thinking what am I going to tell my wife?”
young women in a hat stands on a bridge
“I felt that if I told someone that I was positive, they would judge me and look at me differently”
Woman on a beach looking at the sky and smiling
“At age 61, I found out I was HIV positive… I stood up, took charge of my life and proved everyone wrong.”
Man smiles at camera
“When I told him my status I thought he would run for the hills, but to my surprise he told me he didn't care.”
Woman smiling sitting next to a young girl
"My dream is to go all around the world and give hope to those still suffering."
smiling man arms crossed by a van
“I think if I had kept it a secret, it would have played on my mind more and probably made me quite depressed. “
Hispanic woman smiling headshot
"Thanks to the help and love I got from my man and the healthcare providers, I am positive about my disease."
Last updated:
29 November 2019
Next full review:
30 June 2019