I remember the first time I saw a positive result. The fine print on the lab report was very clear. The patient had been showing all the symptoms—starting with a bad flu, a skin infection, and swollen lymph nodes. Those were all clear signs that something was attacking the immune system. Back then, I was just a receptionist. I didn’t know that down the road I’d be giving those results personally. That day, the doctor took care of breaking the news to the patient: HIV was something they were going to live with for the rest of their life.
Fast forward to Positive Directions, I am in a similar situation. An individual walks in with all the signs—they’ve had the flu, they’ve got the swollen lymph nodes. I have been trained for this situation and experienced it from the outside, but today it’s my turn. Today, my words are the difference between this person living a healthy life and life with a chronic disease. Every step that I take in the next 60 seconds will make a difference in how they react. I am realizing that all of my training doesn’t matter. This part is about being human. No training can teach me how to be compassionate and understanding.
I am a volunteer at Positive Directions in Wichita, KS. Every day we talk with individuals that have been exposed to HIV, those coming in for regular checkups/retests, or those who may be first-time clients. We will always remain confidential and be there for you no matter the situation. If there is something we can’t help you with, we will do whatever is in our power to get you the resources you need. Positive Directions offers free HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C testing (with Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing coming soon!) for those in the Wichita area. Come by anytime during our office hours Tuesday - Friday 9 am - 4 pm, Wednesday 9 am - 8 pm and Saturday 10 am - 4 pm, or catch us at one of our many outreach events throughout the year.
Knowing your status and getting treatment early can make a big difference in the outcome. Find out more about HIV resources and support groups in your area here.