My HIV Story: The Military Was My Life

I contracted HIV from my ex-wife. Since we were supposed to be in a monogamous relationship, I could only surmise that she had an extramarital affair (something she later confessed to), since I remained faithful. We were trying to have children, so we always had unprotected intercourse. The attempt to have children went on for a couple of years without success. We then decided to see a fertility clinic. Right before we had our first visit, my annual physical for the military was due and you get tested for HIV there. About two weeks after I was tested, I was called back to the hospital for more tests.

I was then told that I was HIV positive and that they needed to run more tests. I was dumbfounded. I went home depressed and considered suicide because I knew what this meant for my military career.

This news affected my life in tremendous ways. Not only was this a career-ender in the military, but how would I survive emotionally and physically? I knew nothing of what it was like to live with HIV and I was completely devasted. All I knew (or thought I knew) was that it’s something gay men and irresponsible people get, and it’s looked down upon on in society. Further military advancements would be impossible to achieve because, in the military, if you are HIV positive you cannot be deployed. For advancements, you are competing with others who may have had deployments and other deployment-related achievements under their belts. Therefore, more than likely, I would be passed over for any advancement opportunities.

Since being diagnosed and I left the military, I have tried to go back into service but because of my HIV-positive status, I always fail the reentry physical. I will no longer be able to go back on active duty. The military was my life.

In addition to affecting my military career, it’s also affected my personal life. Per military rules, and I believe civilian rules as well, you must disclose your status to any new potential partner and being HIV positive has not gained me any new partners.

The first thing I would like people living without HIV to know about those living with HIV is that it’s not limited to a certain group of people. That was my presumption as well but as I’ve learned more, I’ve come to realize that this disease does not discriminate; anyone is vulnerable to it.

I would also like people living without HIV to know that those with the disease can and are living very long lives with medications. And it’s not the death sentence it was once considered. Lastly, I would like people to know that with medical consultation, couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not, are capable of having a loving and long-lasting relationship without cross-transmission.

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