Pauline (35)

coordinates speakers for dance4life
boyfriend: 3 months
children: none
HIV+: 3 years
HIV meds: 4 months
viral load: undetectable
CD4-cell count: 720

I was totally in shock
Three years ago, I suddenly developed all kinds of symptoms, all within a week. I was totally weakened and had a fever of over forty degrees. My doctor sent me to the hospital casualty department. I collapsed there in the waiting room. When I came to, there was an internist standing next to my hospital bed. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. They thought it might be an HIV infection. I said that was impossible because coincidentally I had been tested a few weeks before and all was okay.

But hospital tests showed I had contracted HIV a short time before that. It must have happened from that one time I had unprotected sex with my new boyfriend. He hadn’t been tested for HIV in the last six years. His blood levels indicated that he probably already had it for a while. I wasn’t angry with him. I always have a lot of empathy – I felt sorry for him, because it was an even bigger blow for him than for me: he not only was told that he had HIV, but also that he’d given it to me. That’s something I never want to experience.

My job is to break through the taboo surrounding HIV. At dance4life we make young people aware of HIV in a very stimulating way. For me, it’s also a way to come to terms with it: by being so actively involved, I can deal with it better myself. I’m very open about it. I have talked about my HIV on various TV shows and I regularly do interviews with magazines. They always ask how I felt at the moment I heard that I had it. I can hardly even remember it, because I was totally in shock. And I was in the denial phase: HIV was something for homosexuals. This couldn’t be happening to me! I had understood there were medicines, but I knew too little about them: would I get AIDS and soon die?


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