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‘88 Finishing Touches : Taking the AIDS Test Changed His Life

It’s been seven months since “Brian” tested negative for exposure to the human immuno-deficiency virus, which causes AIDS. With a sublime sense of relief, he realized how lucky he was to be alive--and started making some changes in his life.

Still wishing to retain his anonymity, Brian has decided not to take the test again. Although a negative result is no guarantee that one is free of the virus (antibodies can take three to 14 weeks and sometimes longer to show up after exposure to HIV), Brian feels confident about his safe sex practices. His lover at the time also took the test, with negative results.

“I think one trauma will last me for some time,” he says with a dry laugh. “I feel fine, and I haven’t been out cavorting or any of that, and so it would be a ridiculous exercise at this point.”

Still smoking (it’s one of his New Year’s resolutions to quit), he talks about recent changes in his life. He has a new job that offers more autonomy, and is donating time and services to AIDS programs.

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“Some people in my situation may say, ‘Phew, I’m out of the woods.’ But I think when you go through this process and you think about it, it’s much easier to put yourself in someone else’s place, someone who has tested positive, and I think that serves as a real impetus to get involved in the whole fund-raising process to find a cure, and for services to people who have it.

“Since the story was written, I’ve had a couple of other friends die, and I know other people who have died (from AIDS complications).”


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