EDIT: Due to a few thousand requests to edit this, I want to mention to everyone that I'm under the impression the condom broke. I don't know this fact for sure but obviously, had it worked correctly, I wouldn't be posting this AMA. Wearing protection (correctly) VASTLY decreases your risk of contracting an STD through sex. I was unfortunate enough to not have that happen.

In March of this year I met someone through the craigslist "men seeking men" section out of boredom with my lackluster sex life and an urge to do something exciting and erotic. We had a brief one-night-stand, using protection, and nothing interesting came of that night. The sex was mediocre. I went home and we didn't speak again.

A week later I came down with an absolutely horrendous flu/fever that reached 103.5 degrees and stayed there for 5 days. I eventually went to the ER where I was misdiagnosed with strep throat and sent home with antibiotics. The flu and fever cleared itself after a few days and I assumed that was the end of it, although I couldn't shake a bad feeling that I had contracted something from my shitty one night stand.


This short period of sickness is not a symptom of AIDS, as a lot of people seem to believe and are asking me about. This is called Acute Retroviral Syndrome or Primary HIV Infection. It is the body's natural response to a foreign host replicating at a high level in the body.

One month ago today I tested positive, saw a specialist, confirmed the diagnosis with a CD4 of 319 and viral load of 262,000. Apparently my CD4 is particularly low after such a short time because it's still rising following the acute retroviral syndrome, according to the specialist. He seems to be relatively unworried, so I'm taking that as good news. Additionally, he's happy about the fact that I caught this extremely early on in its progression. Also good news.

I've struggled with immense image issues and depression since this all started. I feel deeply ashamed and my life feels extremely unfair based on the fact that I was using protection and still managed to contract it. Talking about this is cathartic though, so I'd like to answer questions if anybody has any.

edit: Had to go run errands for a bit, back answering questions again. Thanks for the kind words, everyone :)

Second edit: proof: http://imgur.com/J3HTUSg

THIRD EDIT: I will answer every question in this thread, it might take some time though! The amount of support and encouragement in this thread is overwhelming, thank you all so much for it.

As is evidenced by a lot of responses in this thread, there is a TON of misinformation about what an HIV diagnosis means in today's day and age. Hopefully by the time this thread is finished, I can put a substantial portion of these rumors and incorrect assumptions to rest.

Comments: 3044 • Responses: 47  • Date: 

kjoro1716 karma

sorry to hear mate, I think this should stop anyone from hooking up on craigslist.

highfiveohwaitshit1529 karma

That's the intent of this AMA :)

thebassoe1573 karma

You're probably helping a lot of people by posting this. Too many young people search CL for a hookup not realizing the truth of STD prevalence among people who advertise on that site. I hope you overcome this ordeal and realize you're not any less of a man or anything like that, and you've got nothing to be ashamed of. You experienced something and learned from it and I guarantee you'll be a stronger person down the road. Best of luck man.

highfiveohwaitshit878 karma

This response nearly made me cry. Thank you.

milkcrate_house463 karma

this didn't happen because of craigslist... the same thing could have happened hooking up with someone you met at a bar, at work or at the chess club.

highfiveohwaitshit525 karma

Agreed. The inherent lesson is no less potent though. We're all human and we make mistakes.

I've lived a very pleasant, sheltered life so far. The fact that I'm so fucking.....human.....is absolutely shocking and terrifying. I know that this is happening because I'm getting bloodwork done and taking medication, but I haven't really accepted the fact that this is really, actually, happening.

[deleted]-3 karma


Innundator10 karma

Sociopath or 13 years old..hmm. Tough choice.

[deleted]-2 karma


Innundator7 karma

Why did you edit your comment to be something totally different from what it originally was.. now my comment makes no sense.. that's weird.

Mighty_Cthulhu3 karma

What did it say before the edit?

Innundator4 karma

Something about who cares about STD's now you can go fuck whomever you want since you won't catch anything worse than HIV

highfiveohwaitshit32 karma

Actually brings up an interesting point. You can be infected with more than one strain of HIV, which complicates treatment immensely. It's called an HIV superinfection and its the primary reason why HIV+ couples still shouldn't have unprotected sex.

hilwil1448 karma

My 27 year old best friend died two months ago due to undiagnosed AIDS that resulted in central nervous lymphoma (the ultimate cause of death). His health was questionable for the past few years so I confronted him last year to see if he was tested for HIV. I don't know if it was shame, fear, or both but he says yes and was negative. His cd4 was eleven by the time he was hospitalized. Thank you for owning your infection and addressing it. I imagine it is a slow journey back to normalcy but you will live a long and healthy life. Thank you for this thread as well. I might still have my best friend if he possessed your strength.

Tl;dr: HIV isn't a death sentence unless you are in denial and don't seek help.

highfiveohwaitshit1137 karma

Reread this, and in answering a thousand questions about myself I forgot to say I'm sorry for your loss. Hope your coping well, if you need to talk PM me.

highfiveohwaitshit627 karma

I am certainly in denial, but I've got help for it :)

It feels like there's absolutely no way, despite all the confirmation from multiple blood tests and a specialist, that this can actually, really be happening to me. Ultimately, taking a pill every day is far superior to the alternative of letting it progress. But I'm still getting past the idea that the doctor isn't going to randomly call and say "Hey, guess what, it was negative after all!"

I appreciate the kind words, thank you :)

Viking831226 karma


highfiveohwaitshit348 karma


ohdizzy848 karma

Isn't it illegal for someone to engage in sexual acts without telling their partner they have an std? I'm pretty sure he can get into major trouble for that...right?

highfiveohwaitshit1112 karma

If I could get a hold of him, I would probably kill him before law enforcement would have a chance to get their hands on him. At any rate, he changed his number soon after the night we had sex. I've been unable to find him since then.

farmerfoo378 karma

What possible way did you contract hiv from this encounter? Did you come into any contact with any fluids?! We're you bottoming? Any way the guy infected you on purpose by poking a hole in the condom?

highfiveohwaitshit605 karma

Yes, I was on bottom. I'm fairly certain the condom broke, after the guy finished he seemed very sketchy about the situation (could have just been the fact that he was hooking up with someone on craigslist, but I'm kind of convinced he knew something was wrong and was too scared to tell me).

pwaryuex249 karma

Hey man, sorry to hear about what happened. I don't really have anything to ask... Just wanted to say that this is a really important reminder that you need to use condoms correctly (you need to put them on correctly, including using lube). It's also worth noting that you can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for situations when you think you might be exposed, and ordinary PEP for after the fact.

Again, I'm really sorry this happened to you. There is no need to feel ashamed, though. You picked up an illness - all the stigma attached to HIV is because of sex negativity and the necessity to shock people away from it. Try to find a support group in your area or online.

highfiveohwaitshit247 karma

Thanks for the sympathy, I really do appreciate it.

Ultimately, life goes on, and I'm looking forward to moving on with my medication to a point where my viral load is undetectable. It's important to remember that HIV is not nearly what it was before 1996; the last image burned into the minds of the general public was that of a brutal virus decimating the population before the cocktail drugs were invented. Once it stopped killing everyone who became infected with it, it fell off the radar as people lost interest and everyone who had it settled down to a relatively normal life on medication.

In addition to this, I saw an askreddit thread a while back where some guy's girlfriend came out to him as HIV+ about a month into the relationship and he was wondering whether or not to stay with her. The responses reeked of misinformation and paranoia, with a few people saying the girl deserved to die of AIDS for not telling the guy sooner. That kind of disgusted me, since suddenly this is a very real issue for me, and telling potential partners is something that I'll have to eventually deal with as well, and knowing when to tell and how to tell them is crucial. Most people would probably run if you told them on the first date. I know I would.

pwaryuex68 karma

Have you told people close to you? That's probably the most important thing aside from support groups etc.

highfiveohwaitshit114 karma

Yes, I have. The general reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

Support groups kinda depress me, because I feel (probably invalidly) that I'm being lumped in with people who engage in risky actions, share IV needles, drug users, etc. who all happen to have the same virus. I feel like I haven't done anything wrong.

pwaryuex118 karma

I completely understand, but you're similarly following the stigma attached to HIV+ status. I reckon if you went to a few different groups, you'd see that many people have caught it from what could be called mainstream, (reasonably) safe behaviour.

highfiveohwaitshit69 karma

Probably. I'm not quite there yet, but I understand that are immense resources available when I'm ready for it. I'll get there eventually. For the time being, having a therapist helps. My measure for how well I'm coping with it for the time being is kind of based on how long I go without thinking about it in any given day, and so far my record was 45 minutes after having a session of therapy. So that's looking up.

SlothyTheSloth7 karma

Sharing needles isn't morally wrong and those people aren't bad people. They didn't hurt anyone outside the other people they shared needles with. Why look down on them?

highfiveohwaitshit-2 karma

I agree, but it's undoubtedly a much higher-risk act than protected sex.

SICK_OF_-11 karma

Um, if someone has sex with another person and they have a fatal disease and don't tell them about it, they DO deserve to die. That is, if nothing else, attempted murder.

highfiveohwaitshit7 karma

It was prior to them having sex, if I recall correctly. Either way, it seemed like a delicate situation that she was waiting to tell her SO about and the whole thread basically crucified her for stringing him along.

dsailo181 karma

Sorry to hear about this, I wanted to ask why do you think that that night caused the hiv, as long as the contact was protected?

highfiveohwaitshit478 karma

I hadn't had sex for a few months preceding this night, and I've been routinely tested as this was one of my greatest fears. During the week I was seroconverting, I got myself tested twice and tested negative both times. While these were obviously false negatives within the window period of converting to positive status, they nevertheless confirmed that I was negative prior to this encounter.

My main goal here is basically to convince people to stay the fuck away from craigslist for sex, as if that wasn't already a given. I'm aware of the fact that people generally avoid it anyways, but there were some askreddit threads a while back where people were basically saying it was a fun time if not a little awkward, and they might do it again.

You don't know random strangers from the internet. It's a terrible idea. Take it from me.

thepanichand143 karma

I follow the so-called 'pozzers' crowd on Twitter a bit; it is fairly astonishing how many of them seem to engage in unprotected sex, with a simply dizzying amount of largely anonymous partners, and yet still claim to be negative. One guy seems to lay for hours in a sling in a gay bathhouse, having anonymous sex, with as many as 120 encounters in a weekend, and despite actively desiring the virus, is still negative.

What are your feelings towards the gift givers and bugchasers in light of your situation? Why do you think you became positive with protection and they remain negative? Why do you think some men want HIV?

I'm sorry, by the way, that this happened to you. I think that's shitty, and I hope you remain well and live well.

highfiveohwaitshit199 karma

Thanks for the kind words.

The "gift-giving" and "bug-chasing" crowd need serious psychological help, in my opinion.

From what I've heard, the reason that they do this is due to the high prevalence of HIV among the homosexual community. Having HIV apparently validates someone or gives them an "in" with the crowd. In addition to this, the specialist I spoke to said that they see this type of behavior more often in people who were shunned or outright rejected by their parents and family; they seek validation and acceptance in their own skin, and do it through twisted means like that.

At any rate, yeah. That one guy who you mentioned in the bathhouse is probably due for it. I unfortunately don't see the appeal.

thepanichand40 karma

That's interesting. The rationales given for it are varied, but I do wonder about their psychological health too. One guy who is topping/whoring out this bathhouse guy tweets horrible disturbing stuff about how he will dispose of him when he's done, which bathhouse guy is okay with. I'd think this was fake, but there are so many pictures. :/

I always have thought extremes of sexuality questionable for your mental health status, though.

Anyway. It pisses me off that you wound up infected, and I'm sorry you're depressed and feel awful. I'm happy to chat to you via PM if you need a friend.

highfiveohwaitshit46 karma

I've got tons of support from close friends, family, and a therapist, but thank you for offering :)

Mainly it's just overcoming the hurdle that this is real. It's not a crazy nightmare that's going to end in 5 minutes when I wake up. This is my life.

Weareallaroundgaming138 karma

Have you ever considered hiring a Private Investigator to track this guy? They might have tools to track that guy down using his old number. Also, what do you differently in your life now? Have you became a germaphobe since contracting the Virus? Sorry if my questions seem ignorant. I am just forming questions based off what I learned in High School Health class.

highfiveohwaitshit218 karma

No, but now that you mention it I might actually consider it. I am extremely resentful and angry for it, even if I'm supposed to be letting it go at this point.

No worries about the "ignorant" questions. So far, I've basically been working out like crazy. If the medication is doing its job I shouldn't have to be living my life any differently (I don't need to be any more worried about a cold or flu than anybody else), as my immune system will still be extremely healthy.

Ultimately the only thing that I have to really be worried about is the long-term side-effects of the medications that reduce the virus to undetectable levels, as they're still only a decade or two old. It's basically poison that's been modified to be tolerable to the rest of the human body, so I'm apparently at a higher risk for a host of diseases and cancers later in life, hence the fact that I now have a fantastic reason to keep my body in excellent shape for the foreseeable future.

ohdizzy77 karma

ELI5... Heterosexual men and women engage in anal sex frequently too...why is it still more prominent in homosexual partnerships?

I'm sorry for my ignorance; I really dont understand this.

ExpiredDustyMuffin210 karma

In order for it to spread, either the man or the woman would have to have it in the first place. However, the disease is largely contained in the gay community due to the nature of how it would have to spread and who it would naturally spread to if it did.

While it's certainly not a gay disease, the largest group that catches it is the gay community. Since men are typically solidly gay if they are gay (as opposed to bisexual) the disease is generally contained in the community. Thus, it's more unlikely that either party in a heterosexual relationship would have it in order to spread it.

You'll notice though in populations with high male incarceration rates and drug use, that heterosexual men and women go on infecting their female or male partners. I don't have the study on hand, but I remember reading that one of the largest HIV groups that's infected are black single mothers.

highfiveohwaitshit39 karma

This is accurate information..... not sure why it's at -2 at the moment.

Aleksander7362 karma

I'm glad you didn't know the seroconversion process. I've heard of people killing themselves during this period because they understood what was happening.

What prompted you to get tested again? Did you get an AIDS defining illness? Pneumocystis jiroveci Pneumonia?

What meds are you on now? What is your latest cd4?

highfiveohwaitshit74 karma

I'm on Atripla. I've only been on it about 7 days, so I'm still kinda dealing with the depression aspect of it.

I got tested again because I tested myself twice with an Oraquick strip within the window period, and both showed up negative. I tested myself for the final time at a clinic at 3 months out and it turned up positive. That was a shitty day.

Aleksander7328 karma

That's some heavy stuff. I hope your side effects aren't overwhelming. I can't imagine receiving that kind of news.

highfiveohwaitshit168 karma

After testing myself twice (once right at the edge of the 3 month window, like 2 months and 15 days in) and both being negative, I was confident that it would be negative but still nervous, and just wanted definitive confirmation from an unbiased source. I sat in the waiting room waiting for the results to finish, and then the guy called me in and calmly told me that whatever the results were, it was going to be alright.

I kinda shirked him off and rushed him out with the results because I just wanted to get past this and move on with my life, to stop freaking out at every little thing I thought was a symptom.

So he slid a little piece of paper with the results on it across the desk and quietly said "Well it actually came up positive."

My heart rate immediately shot through the roof. Ears started ringing, tunnel vision, and adrenaline coursing through me. Everything was shaking. I had to call my parents and tell them, and of course they lived through the 1980s so they immediately went into hysterics. Everything eventually calmed down about 48 hours later and we started approaching the situation rationally (finding a renowned specialist, doing some serious research on how things have changed, etc.), but those initial two days or so were pure and utter hell in the most literal sense of the word. I was absolutely convinced I was going to start dying a slow and painful death at any moment.

Horrible memory. I'd like to forget it.

Metakittie25 karma

Is Atripla expensive? Does it give you any side effects?

highfiveohwaitshit58 karma

It's absurdly expensive, but insurance pays for almost all of it. Vivid dreams are the wildest side effect. They take some getting used to.

Dylanjosh34 karma

Is the seroconversion process the high fever that he mentioned?

highfiveohwaitshit53 karma

Yup. It's the virus reaching a set point/replicating like crazy in your body in addition to your body producing a massive amount of antibodies to combat it. Unfortunately the antibodies our bodies produce are ineffective at fighting HIV due to the fact that it mutates very rapidly.

highfiveohwaitshit49 karma

Proof sent to the mods!

Silver_Six42 karma


highfiveohwaitshit57 karma

No, he didn't. He changed his number and I've been unable to get a hold of him so far. If I get him to answer for his actions, I would.

therabbitheart36 karma

Have you ever hooked up on Craigslist before? What are your feelings on Grindr or other such apps?

highfiveohwaitshit70 karma

No, this was the first time. Grindr is pretty much the exact same thing, to be honest. People are certainly capable of lying if they want to for sex. In addition to that, it has apparently become common practice for people to use "HIV negative" as a substitute for "I don't know, I haven't gotten tested, why would I assume the worst." I wouldn't trust anybody on sites or apps like that and if you insist on it, make sure you're using protection and using it correctly.

benkordus32 karma

A bit of intrigue and boredom turns into pure hell. Damn. I feel for you. The only thing I can offer you is a smile and a high five. (Your screen name) Hope things work out buddy.

highfiveohwaitshit102 karma

It was a play on Hi-"V" :D

wu-tanging15 karma

Hopefully things are all uphill from here.

Is day to day life with controlled HIV that drmatically different? (If you can control it, my knowledge in this area is slim to none.)

highfiveohwaitshit31 karma

Nope. One pill once a day before bedtime to keep the virus undetectable. That's about the only change. The side effects of the medication takes some getting used to, but that supposedly lasts for a few weeks and then normalizes.

lordeddardstark22 karma

How expensive is the medication? Will you have to take it for as long as you live?

highfiveohwaitshit157 karma

Atripla costs approximately $1,850 per bottle (30 pills) without insurance. With insurance, I pay a $15 copay.

Despite my parents rants about Obamacare being the worst thing since the Holocaust, they are actually ultimately warming up to the concept since it now likely means that their son will be able to afford health insurance coverage without getting denied for a pre-existing condition when I'm finally removed from their insurance when I'm 26.

Weenercopter14 karma

Some people might say, "I don't even feel sorry for you. You made a stupid choice; you shouldn't have been having sex with strangers; and you got what you deserved. You're an idiot."

What do you think of such statements? Surely asshole in this thread will say something like that. I'm just curious what it's like from your perspective.

God bless.

highfiveohwaitshit67 karma

I kick myself every day for making the choice, so what should I do about it? I live with the consequences of my own actions. It's scary that I've made a life choice that I really can't take back, as this is the first time that that's been the case with me, ever.

As I said in the initial description, I don't usually do shit like that. I was bored and looking for a stupid adventure/something exciting and "forbidden" if that makes sense.

So, yeah. It is what it is. I couldn't care less if a random redditor feels contempt for my life choices, but it can happen to anyone. Split second and/or small decisions may often be life or death and we don't even realize it on a day to day basis. I suppose saying "it could happen to anyone" is a bit of a stretch, but you always expect things like this to happen to someone else.

Unfortunately, we're all someone else to someone else.

GuyFawkes9912 karma

When was your last sexual encounter prior to the March Craigslist hookup? I ask because I have always been told that condoms are EXTREMELY effective.

highfiveohwaitshit19 karma

Even so. If a condom is 98% effective and there are 10,000,000 instances of sexual activity in any given time frame, that means that there were 200,000 cases where condoms didn't work.

Basically, the odds of catching HIV are statistically very low given any type of sexual activity. People just have a lot of sex.

Crolleen6 karma

"Only specific fluids (blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk) from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These specific fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the blood-stream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur"

this is from the CDC website. you said you used protection so I'm a little confused...

highfiveohwaitshit13 karma

The condom broke. I was unaware of that fact until after I had already started seroconverting.

number1pencil3 karma

Did you give it or receive it? Serious question.

highfiveohwaitshit6 karma

Received. I think the transmission rate for anal penetrative sex for the top partner is close to zero, somebody correct me if I'm wrong on that.

Flecks_of_doom3 karma

Sorry to hear that man, I've used Craigslist too in the past but have not used it in some time now and will not use it again.

I totally understand your temptation after being in a rut and thinking this one time on CL will be OK. Been there.

I've used protection if it came to anal but my encounters were usually oral. I still worried though. I was more worried about catching scabies or lice or something to that affect.

Try some meditation - it really helps people deal with issues. PM me if you want more details.

All the best...

highfiveohwaitshit7 karma

Him. I wouldn't be surprised.

Edit: I suppose I shouldn't go making wild accusations like this, now that I reread the comment. What's done is done. I am still extremely resentful and I'm having a tough time getting over it, so I suppose that explains my feelings a bit.

ALDUD3 karma

It's not a life sentence. It's tough but just keep your head up:)

what changes do you have to make in your life now?

highfiveohwaitshit10 karma

No big changes. One pill once a day before bedtime. I've always been in great health with great cardio, weight lifting, swimming, running, etc. So basically I'm just making sure that I keep doing what I'm already doing.

Thank you for the encouragement :)

hakumachente3 karma

Is this the number one mistake of your life? Or is there another.

highfiveohwaitshit7 karma

This takes the cake by far. Nothing comes remotely close.

RayZfox1 karma

Random, anonymous sex without a condom. How could it go wrong?

highfiveohwaitshit1 karma

reread the description, dude.

Thejagwtf-3 karma

And that is the lord punishing you for being gay. ALL PRAISE OUR LORD JESUS SALVATOR!

p.s. im an atheist from Mother Russia (please downvote to oblivion) - im 22, bored out of my mind, live alone, drink with my frinds every now and then, get random chicks coming to my place (AND NEVER ONE HAD I GONE FOR A ONE NIGHT STAND)

only relationships, and i always ask my partner if they have ANYTHING!! before sex.

P.s. i do feel sorry for you as a human, but i hate you for being gay. and writing this up is a good add for people not to have one night stands, and not to be gay.

AutoModerator-9 karma

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highfiveohwaitshit5 karma


puredemo2 karma

Please post directly onto the thread description, as your proof isn't personally identifiable.

highfiveohwaitshit2 karma

Was the thread deleted? I've edited with the proof.

Gggg_high-14 karma

Why is it that gay men tend to have AIDS or HIV because didnt Freddie Mercury get AIDS because he was gay. I am just asking i dont want to appear disrespectful i was just wondering.

highfiveohwaitshit8 karma

It's more prevalent among the gay community because anal sex transmits it far more easily than vaginal or oral sex.

HIV/AIDS is certainly prevalent among the heterosexual community as well.

MadeInPolska-21 karma

Choices, choices.....

highfiveohwaitshit6 karma

I'm fully aware.

ancientcreature-21 karma

That sucks. Met a guy, took it up the ass, got AIDS. I guess don't sleep with random strangers in your next life.