I have been lurking here a while after finding you guys when I googled "scared hiv life insurance" about 2 weeks ago. I told myself that if I somehow made it through this whole process I would post as a way to give back and say thanks for all the posters whose words I read over the past few weeks. I can't really trace my fear to a single source, but I have always been really afraid that I was HIV positive. To my knowledge I have never been exposed to the HIV virus either through sexual contact, blood transfusion, etc. and I have never injected illegal drugs. However, I had numerous girlfriends in high school, college and before I met my wife that I had engaged in unprotected sex with and also a few one night stands thrown in the mix.
Every time I would have to go in for a physical or blood work I would get very anxious and agitated and even skipped physicals for a few years because I was too scared they would find something. There were some years when I would muster up the courage to go for the physical exam, but would never call for my lab results. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My wife and I had discussed the need to increase our life insurance policies. Given that I tend to engage in activities that could be deemed risky and other occupational issues I thought it was a great idea...until I found out what testing was involved. There I was with no way around the one test that I had dodged for over a decade. The dreaded HIV test. I knew I was stuck and the panic started in rapidly. I couldn't avoid the test because my wife and I had already agreed to get the insurance and I couldn't face my wife with the fear that I thought I might be HIV positive. I mean, what would she think? Thinking of the position I put her in and the risk I had subjected her to made me feel awful (rightly so). I did my best to forget about the upcoming test and concentrate on work. I kept telling myself if I can just be strong enough to make it to test day I can beat this thing. Once the medical technician leaves with my samples that's it - I'm all in. No way to cancel it then and no way to hide from the results. Well, I beat stage one and made it to test day. I tried to get out of it once citing a past cholesterol reading. I thought maybe I should work on lowering my cholesterol and then possibly reschedule after my annual physical to get a better rate, but I knew deep down it was just a copout to avoid the HIV test.
Once the medical tech left the building the panic became worse. Here I was stuck in a waiting game of indeterminate length with the almost definite positive diagnosis etched in my brain. What could I do? After years of hiding from any HIV related information I decided to turn to Google. Within a day or two I was a veritable cornucopia of information on HIV - symptoms, incubation period, statistical likelihood of exposure, etc. I devoured information like it was potato chips. I would read some of the posts on this forum and start to feel really good about it and think that it has to be way less than a 1% change I am positive. Yay! Then I would read some posts elsewhere on the interwebz and think I was doomed. I spent a ton of time on social media and google tracking down old girlfriends to find out if they were still alive and if they had had children since I read that most expectant mothers are tested. I went back through my entire sexual history and ranked the likelihood of everyone I had ever slept with having HIV and targeted my research there. I went into a semi-panic when I couldn't find any data on one girlfriend who was one of the ones on my list that I had decided was most likely positive. Was she dead?
I vacillated between "knowing" I was positive to almost knowing I was negative and back and forth. I lost sleep and my appetite and I started to lose my mind. I spent a lot of time reading old threads on this board and for that I am thankful. Then an envelope showed up. I had reasoned with myself that one telling factor would be what the envelope from the insurance company looked like. I thought if it were a thick packet I would probably be ok since it would likely have policy documents, literature, etc. inside. I knew if the envelope were small that I was doomed. It was small. Not only was it small, but it was marked in bold type with the ominous phrase "private and confidential - to be opened by addressee only". I felt that inner panic feeling that I know we all can relate perfectly to, but cannot explain in words. The one when you kind of "shatter" and feel that coldish warm seizing sensation flow up through your body and almost have to steady yourself to keep from falling over. That's it. I'm done. It's over. My wife wasn't home from the office yet. How the hell am I a) going to open this envelope and b) tell her that I am HIV positive and I have betrayed her trust and doomed us both to an agonizing death.
I quickly threw the envelope in a drawer and started with my nightly routine. Laundry, walk the dog, dishes, etc. I went to Google and tried to look up information on what type of envelope the life insurance company sends you when you are receiving bad news. I couldn't find anything. **** you google! I went back and picked up the envelope. I held it close to my face and saw only black blobs. I held it up to a lamp and a word started to materialize so I panicked and the letter went back in the drawer. Back to chores and routine. Clean this, put away that, take dog out again. Back to envelope. Maybe I can see better with a flashlight? Tried flashlight and could make out name of life insurance company and some other blobs. Take deep breath, flip envelope over, try again. Words starting to materialize "STATUS" and then a partial word "APPR....". OMG, I can't see it all. I can't make it out. Panic, panic! Rip the envelope open. "APPROVED".
I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope some people can relate and it helps at least one other person who, like me, is deathly afraid of HIV testing and has wasted years of his/her life hiding from it. Once again, thanks to everybody on the forum. You really helped me get through a dark period and for that you have my eternal gratitude.