Hiv and Drugs

“DURING MY HEAVY USING PHASE, WHEN I WAS A DRINKER & USER OF COCAINE & HEROIN, I SLEPT WITH EIGHT OR NINE WOMEN.” SAYS BILL. “ONE NIGHT I HAD ORAL SEX WITH A GIRL WHO DIDN’T KNOW SHE HAD HIV. WE WERE HIGH & DRUNK. DID WE STOP TO ASK QUESTIONS: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SEXUALLY? AND WHO HAVE YOU DONE IT WITH? OF COURSE NOT.”

EVENTULLY BILL HIT ROCK BOTTOM WITH ALCOHOL & OTHER DRUG ABUSE & RECEIVED TREATMENT FOR HIS ADDICTION. EARLY IN HIS RECOVERY HE STARTED DATING AGAIN. “DURING THAT TIME I WAS WITH A WOMAN, & WE WERE AT THAT POINT IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WHEN PHYSICAL INTIMACY WAS A FOCUS,” BILL RECALLS. 

“ONE NIGHT SHE SAID TO ME, ‘BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER, WHAT’S YOUR STATUS?’ IN MY MIND I WAS ASKING MYSELF WHAT SHE MEANT: WHAT’S MY MARITAL STATUS? FINANCIAL STATUS? SOBRIETY STATUS?  BUT HER REAL QUESTION WAS: WHAT’S YOUR HIV STATUS, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING YOUR HISTORY WITH DRUGS?”

BILL HAD NO ANSWER, SO HE GOT A FULL ROUND OF BLOOD TESTS. “I STILL REMEMBER THE NURSE WALKING INTO MY ROOM TO GIVE ME THE RESULTS,” HE SAYS. “SHE LOOKED UPSET, I THOUGHT ‘OH GOSH, I BET SHE HAD TO TELL SOMEONE IN THE OTHER ROOM THAT THEY HAVE HIV’ THAT’S WHEN SHE LOOKED AT ME & SAID, ‘BILL, YOUR HIV TEST CAME BACK POSITIVE.’”

BILL SAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON HE LEARNED IS THAT HIV INFECTION CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE INCLUDING THOSE WHO ABUSE ALCOHOL OR OTHER DRUGS.