My short bio: Hey Reddit! Almost a year ago I was diagnosed HIV+. My life has changed drastically since. I'm healthy for the most part, but my mental health is slipping a little more every day. I guess I just wanted to reach out, establish some social interaction, and maybe help educate some people about the risks of HIV. What pushed me to do this was receiving this in the mail. It crushed me. I'll never be able to pay it in full.

Edit: Sorry this is my first AMA, and I rarely post to Reddit. I should have provided some more info about what the actual bill entitled. I spent nearly a month in the hospital and also had my gallbladder removed in the process along with several scans and tests to identify exactly what was wrong. Thank you all for the support and thanks to /u/joeblowyoudontknow for clearing that up.


Comments: 573 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

joeblowyoudontknow537 karma

I do feel like it should be clarified that the $50k+ medical bill was (as far as I can tell from the details) for a month in the hospital and a gall bladder removal surgery, and not for testing HIV+, which probably occurred during standard testing in the hospital. I say this only so as not to discourage people from feeling that they can get tested without fear of a random astronomical medical bill. Most testing is free and anonymous, and meds can be attained though community health care services if/when needed. No disparagement on the OP is intended, I just feel like that should be spelled out clearly.

Silas4202 karma

They have tests you can buy at walmart to test for HIV now! So you can do it in the privacy of your own home, and freak out for several minutes while you await the results!

LovePortents67 karma

Do you know how you caught it? (From)

Do they know/taking steps to not spread further?

Silas42086 karma

Sexual contact. I'm not into needles or anything =). In all honesty, I don't know who it came from, and I'd rather not know simply because I don't want to assign blame.

DreamInspireEducate131 karma

Knowingly transmitting HIV/AIDs is a major crime, you should definitely want to know and research your previous partners.

Silas420158 karma

I had to give a list of all my sexual partners for the past few years to the CDC, it was more than unpleasant. They do the work and protect your identity. I had a recent partner contact me when she received something in the mail trying to pinpoint who it could have been. I was honest. She had to be tested in her home on the spot. She was negative, but I still felt terrible. We're still friends to this day.

zergling21233 karma

Was it with a condom?

Silas42053 karma

No, I'm not a smart man. One of my partners was very promiscuous.

The_Serious_Account11 karma

I'd rather not know simply because I don't want to assign blame.

Whait, what? What about preventing further transmission? Are you insane?

Silas4208 karma

I gave a list of all sexual partners to the CDC. I suppose I do know who, I just don't want to know 100% and be vengeful towards her.

AzPharizon59 karma

Words cannot express how sad I feel for you man. I commend your courage for openly admitting your ailment. I can't do anything except upvote and hope the right person sees this. All the best.

Silas42026 karma

Thanks for your support, it's greatly appreciated!

ShhBeQuiet12234 karma

Do you still have the same stance you had on HIV as before? (How do you feel about them/ people with them before and after getting them yourself?)

Silas42050 karma

In the back of my mind I always thought I'd contract it somehow, or had already. I was sexually molested as a child(I've never told anyone), and as uneducated as I was about it thought I could have contracted it then. I don't know why, but I've always been obsessed with germs, and figured this was sort of the end all. I've kept an open mind about it because of that, but actually having it puts you in a completely different mindset.I've learned a lot in the short time I've had it, both from doctors and numerous panicky Google searches. It scares me how uneducated people are about how it can and cannot be transmitted. When I called my Mom from the Hospital she asked, "Are you going to die?"

Edit: Left out some words!

PlusheeYoshi14 karma

What are some misconceptions on how HIV can/cannot be transmitted?

Silas42055 karma

Most people I encounter assume it's spread through saliva. I usually end up outing myself when I go into a lengthy explanation of how it's only spread through blood, semen, and vaginal secretions.

sublevelcaver25 karma

Silas42012 karma

Yes! I always forget that. Thanks for including it!

traderftw5 karma

Wasn't there a theory where approximately 1 gallon of saliva could contain enough HIV cells for the virus to take hold?

Sorry if I'm misinformed.

That said, I don't kiss like that.

Silas4209 karma

It is possible to transmit it through saliva, but from what I understand you'd have to drink several gallons, not just one. Who in there right mind would want to drink saliva?

Curnowledge31 karma

PSA for everyone reading this post: The average cost of a single condom is $.50 to $1.00 USD. THAT is what it costs to save your life.

sheepman2120 karma

Save your life? Don't be so dramatic. HIV positive people are alive, okay? Of course it's a small price to pay to avoid something that causes so much suffering and is so expensive, but it is impolite to imply that op and other positive people are dead.

Silas4207 karma

Had I not been treated, I would have died from infection.

I_love_leg_day30 karma

Were you diagnosed HIV aladeen or HIV aladeen?

Feels for you man <3

Silas42015 karma

HIV Aladeen.

I_love_leg_day4 karma

:( :) :(

Silas4202 karma

o0 0_o 0=

Buscifer25 karma

What was your first reaction when you learned about it?

Silas42050 karma

I cried, hard, for a minute or two then realized that wasn't how I wanted to go about it. I'd spent a lot time thinking I already had it for years before this, so I guess I'd already gotten over it. I knew I had to be strong for my loved ones. My Mom is pretty fragile, so I guess I've tried to present the image that it doesn't bother me much. I tell people, "Shit happens, man". I guess I just don't know what else to do or say, but I'm sick of worrying my life away.

Edit: When I say I thought I had it, I mean simply, that I thought I had it. I was well aware I did NOT have it but couldn't shake the thought because of the molestation at an early age that I kept hidden. This secret made me feel dirty. I was tested twice out of hysteria, but still kept the thought that I had it or would inevitably contract it. I feared germs in the worst way, and still do.

Buscifer16 karma

Nice to hear that you were able to deal with it. I wish you the best on handling the situation.

Silas42011 karma

Thanks, I really appreciate that!

the_party_hat_cat14 karma

Why did you have unprotected sex if you thought you had it then, weren't you worried you'd give it to other people?

Silas42014 karma

I thought I had it, I KNEW I didn't. I was tested twice before and tested negative. I am a worrier, I worry about the littlest germ, in my mind AIDS was the worst thing that could happen to me. It was a reoccurring thought that I'd contract it one way or another.


How did you learn you had it? Were you having any physical issues from it that made you go see a Dr only to find out it was HIV? Or were you just taking a random test and it caught you completely off guard?

Silas42048 karma

I had flu like symptoms, but much worse. I couldn't eat, sleep, and movement was painful. I had rushing thoughts, and would often try to spell words backwards and forwards. I've never felt worse. Like death was squeezing every last drop out of me. All I ate was pineapple, it was delicious and the only thing I craved. I gradually got worse over probably a month, and lost almost 30 pounds before I finally called an ambulance. I just couldn't take it anymore.

The Police thought I was on drugs, and questioned me several times before letting me into the ambulance. By the time I got to the hospital I was having an anxiety attack and was extremely nauseous. I explained my symptoms, and that they'd been ongoing for almost a month. I also complained of pain in my lower abdomen(my gallbladder would be removed a week later). They stabilized me, gave me something for anxiety and discharged me. I begged the nurse, literally in tears to let me stay and give me a room. I told her she'd have to " drag me the fuck out" if she wanted me to leave. She called the police. They escorted me out. Imagine how that felt!

By that time I was feeling a bit better, but got worse over the next day or so. My sister took me a hospital in a larger city. My gallbladder was removed, but I couldn't shake the temp. After several several tests I was diagnosed HIV+

TL;DR: Flu like symptoms, police escort out of first hospital, diagnosed HIV+ a week or so later at a larger hospital.

Jokershore10 karma

often try to spell words backwards and forwards

Could you please clarify this statement? Thanks

Silas42014 karma

It's not easy to explain. I had many rushing thoughts, so many I couldn't keep track. I just felt this necessity to see if words would spell other words when spelled backwards. I did it constantly, it was just part of my thought process. I guess I did it to stay sane, if I could form words all hope wasn't lost. For example, racecar=racecar. I still do it when I do get sick, and get similar symptoms from before diagnosis but not nearly as severe. It's scary feeling them come on, it's like reliving the whole thing.

bluequail15 karma

Will the new insurance laws allow you to purchase insurance that will cover this condition?

Silas42047 karma

Currently I receive free healthcare through the University, and meds are funded by Ryan White. I'm well taken care of as of now!

syxsyxsyx11 karma

I don't have much to say. If I have some question, some people already asked them and it had answers from you.

I don't know if it will help (you might even at the point where you are sick to the back tooth about people giving you this kind of treatment -I got you bro-), but I symphatize and hoping you the best of luck.

Silas42012 karma

Glad I could help provide some info! Your sympathy is appreciated, makes it a little easier knowing people care, regardless of whether or not I know you. If Reddit has shown me anything it's that there are still SEVERAL good people out there, they're all just lurkers!

Jokershore9 karma

How has this changed your outlook on life?

Would you say this has changed you as a person?

Has anybody shown a side of themselves you previously hadn't seen due to this?

Silas42026 karma

Everyone is about the same, to be honest, but I don't think my family and friends know how much I'm really struggling with it. My best friend has blown me off a lot lately and I feel like he's one of the people I can really confide in. That's been pretty rough on me, though I don't think it's because of the diagnosis. I PANIC when I get a cut or find myself in a situation where I feel I could transmit it to someone else. I've avoided sex and masturbation since the diagnosis. I wash my hands, and disinfect constantly out of sheer anxiety. It's REALLY been getting to me lately. I guess I hoped talking about it would help remedy this. I went from social butterfly to hermit crab in the past year.

oreng9 karma

I can understand why you'd avoid sex but why masturbation?

Silas42033 karma

The thought of it just kind of turns me off, it seems like more of a chore than anything as I immediately feel unclean after orgasm( I have had a wet dream since diagnosis) and need to shower. I'm extremely paranoid about transmitting to others, although I know better, I just can't seem to shake the thought from my mind.

brownscript9 karma

This maybe a little out of topic but I work for a cosmetic company -MAC cosmetics and we have a line of lipsticks called the "viva glam" and every time someone buys these lipsticks we donate every single penny to the mac aids fund which helps men,women and children living and affected with HIV/AIDS. I'm sorry this happened to you and I wish you the best of luck with everything.

Till date we have raise over $300.000.000

Silas4203 karma

This is awesome! Thank you so much for doing this.

Dabee6257 karma

Why isn't it covered by insurance?

Silas4208 karma

I did not have insurance at the time. I'd lost my job a month or so before all of this happened, and was living on unemployment at the time. Searching for a job was nearly impossible feeling the way I did.

Dabee6257 karma

Wow, sorry to hear that. You're probably sick of people giving you sympathy, so I'm just going to wish you luck.

Silas4207 karma

Your sympathy is much appreciated!

surek5 karma

It sucks to hear that, when I hear things like that it makes me feel proud of the NHS public healthcare in the UK. I'm pretty sure my collarbone is dislocated (incident happened a few months ago but it still hurts) but I'm in Australia now and can't afford to have it looked at..

Silas4206 karma

Sorry to hear that, I hope everything works out.

kierantab6 karma

I once read that getting HIV from vaginal sex is super unlikely. Did you feel kind of hard done by when you found you had it?

Silas4209 karma

Shit happens.

bilasboon6 karma


Silas42011 karma

I habitually had unprotected sex with my partner, yes, I trusted her. The list I rattled off was from the last 3-4 years so it was difficult to remember and worried me that I could have infected someone. I HAVE NOT infected anyone. I have been tested twice in the past and tested negative but it did not stop the reoccurring thought that I'd inevitably contract it one way or another, and pass it to someone else. I KNEW I didn't have it, but could not shake the thought from my head because of the molestation at an early age. I just always felt dirty. I'm not looking for sympathy or someone to pay my bills, I just wanted to share my experience, knowledge, and have some social interaction.

mythosopher5 karma

Have you considered filing for bankruptcy? (I know that's kind of a horrible question, but wouldn't it help get rid of that debt?)

Silas4209 karma

No, I haven't, but thanks for the suggestion I hadn't even considered that. I've filled out books of paperwork for assistance and received little to none.

foofie995 karma

i say dont pay it, they cant give you hiv back

Silas4204 karma


kierantab5 karma

What advice would you give someone to avoid getting HIV?

Silas4208 karma

ALWAYS use condoms, use the sniff test LOL! If you have any suspicion your partner is sleeping around proceed with extreme caution. Sex is something I took for granted, cherish it, and realize that it's more than just getting off.

Edit: Removed line about showering after sex, I can't remember where I read this but it assumed cleaning the area couldn't hurt.

nomadincalifornia22 karma

This is not true, showering after sex does NOTHING to reduce your risk of stds. It really saddens me that moderators allow this type of misinformation on here, it is really dangerous. If you want to know how to avoid getting HIV or STDs seek answers from a medical professional not someone with 420 on the end of their screen name. I do sympathize with your situation but spreading this type of misinformation is wrong.

Silas4203 karma

My bad, thanks for clearing that up. I removed it from my original response.

Sideshowcomedy4 karma

Do you know how long you've had it and what made you get tested?

Silas4206 karma

I was diagnosed 11 months ago, almost to the day. 3/16

rafasouza4 karma

Do you consider move to a country where treatment for HIV is less expensive?

Silas42012 karma

Currently treatment is free through the Ryan White Foundation. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that. Meds are ridiculously overpriced. The 50K+ I have in the picture is just for the stay at the hospital. I spent about a month there. No idea why it is so expensive.

joeblowyoudontknow12 karma

A month in a hospital is unfortunately very expensive, regardless of the reason you are there. Most hospitals are run for profit in the US, and there's a lot of money to be made from suffering.

Glad you're getting your meds for free, I was going to suggest moving to one of the larger cities where you can get affordable care before I read this. I've been HIV+ for over 10 years now, and it is hard, but it doesn't mean life is over and it could always be worse. Try to keep a positive outlook if you can, and do what makes you happy.

As for your bill, I wouldn't sweat it too much, they can't get blood from a stone, and with medical bills there isn't really much they can do to get the money from you. Your credit may be screwed for 7 years or so, but I'm not even sure if they can hold medical bills against you in that sense.

Good luck in the future with everything. And remember, you are not alone.

Silas4209 karma

Thanks for this, really. I'm curious, how is your health? Do you get sick frequently? Notice any side effects from meds? Is your viral load considered undetectable?

I recently got my viral load to an undetectable level. It eased some of the stress, but I still freak about transmitting it to another person.

joeblowyoudontknow14 karma

I am also undetectable with a strong t-cell count, and in pretty good health (for a 45 year old). I very rarely get sick, less so it seems than a lot of my HIV- friends, and I attribute a lot of that to keeping a positive mental outlook. I don't overly sanitize my hands or anything, I just try to be smart about things when I can. The only side effects I get from my particular meds are 'strange' dreams and a slightly dizzy/druggy feelings, which is why I take them before I go to bed, and I wake up feeling well-rested and with no problems. In the beginning there was some nausea as I got used to the meds, but that wore off before too long. They have really come a long way since the early days of treatment.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to make it sound like a walk in the park or something that I encourage people to try, but believe me, it can always be worse. A good friend of mine got Hepatitis C from an Ex, and there is no treatment available for that.

And it may be easier to say than to do, but you should try to ease up on the transmission fear if you can... I know exactly where you're coming from, but as long as you're honest, and use protection, it's not something that is actually that easy to transmit. The only way someone could catch it from a cut on your finger is if you then stuff that bleeding finger into one of their sexual orifices. It isn't leprosy, as much as the stigma may suggest otherwise.

Silas4206 karma

Thanks for answering, happy to hear you're in good health! I too take my meds just before bed for the same reasons. I'm extremely grateful that I only need to take 1 pill a day.

Fear of transmission is something I feel I can't avoid as much as I want to. The thought just kind of eats at me until I take care of whatever brought it up. I've always kind of been this way about germs and such. Thanks for the reassurance though! It's nice to hear it from someone who has been there. I wish you the best, and thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

Silas4206 karma

I receive meds for free through the Ryan White Foundation. They're roughly 1500 a month and those are the cheap ones.

Jokershore3 karma

What kind of things made you think you had it all along? Edit: 420 a joke or not? If not does it actually help in any way smoking?

Silas42010 karma

I was sexually molested as a child, I guess I just always felt dirty because of it. I was always very germ aware and aids/hiv was the worst thing that could happen to me.

No joke. I smoke regularly and feel that helps greatly with the depression, and keeps me semi social. Also great for my appetite and nausea induced from meds. I've also read that it keeps the virus from entering the brain. I can't wait for it to be legal so we can maximize its full potential.

donthatemeokay5 karma

I guess I don't understand why you felt like you've had it for years but still had unprotected sex..?

Silas4202 karma

I felt unclean because of the molestation. I was well aware I did not have HIV I just couldn't shake the thought from my mind.

Ziph3 karma

Silas4204 karma

Probably one that ate beets.

LeMoofinateur3 karma

Hey man, just wanted to say you're a lot braver and doing a lot better than you're giving yourself credit for, I wish you all the best. If I knew you I'd smoke you out ;)

Silas4202 karma

Hahah appreciate it. Could certainly use a smoke out!