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January 8, 2007

I found out I was HIV-positive six months ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. On June 21, I got a letter from an insurance company denying my claim for life insurance. The letter stated that according to their blood test, I was HIV-positive. I received this letter at work. I was totally shocked.

A few days later, I told my friend Max, who is a Treatment Adherence Specialist at ASC. Max told me about the different services ASC offers, including HIV counseling and testing. I decided to go to ASC and find out if what the insurance company was telling me was true.

My experience at ASC was very good. The HIV testing counselor made me feel totally comfortable about getting tested. She explained the whole procedure to me and gave me a lot of information about HIV and safer sex. She said, "We'll be here to help you out. If you need medical care, housing, a job, or any other services, we can help." ASC made the process so easy, I didn't have to worry about anything.

After we talked, I took the Rapid Test. Twenty minutes later, the test results came back preliminarily positive. That same day, the counselor went with me to St. Vincent's Hospital to get a confirmatory blood test and that test also came back positive. The whole time, the ASC counselor was so caring. She was right there with me, every step of the way.

Since then, my doctor checks on my viral load and T-cell count every three months, so if and when I need HIV medications, we'll know right away.

Getting tested was the best thing for me. I'm happier now than I was before because my perspective on life has changed. I don't take anything for granted, and I'm more educated about this disease. Today I participated for the first time in one of ASC's support groups and it was great! At first, I was skeptical about talking about my situation in front of a lot of people, but I think being in a support group will give me a place to get out my frustrations and talk about my feelings. I'm looking forward to that.

I am also encouraging my friends to get tested, because I know that if you find out your status before you get sick, you can avoid so much heartache. I tell them about ASC and recommend this agency because it's so personable and professional. Knowing ASC is there for me when I need them gives me peace of mind.

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