I was told that I would need to start on medications right away. I did not have a drug plan and had to rely on Government assistance. For six to eight months, I struggled to receive the help that I needed. I went from 160 lbs to 129 lbs. I kept thinking: will I get to the point where I won’t be able to take care of myself? I also felt alone. I was afraid to speak up for fear of rejection. There were many stigmas attached to those living with HIV - even in early 2000- and unfortunately many of these issues still exist within families, social circles, religious institutions, schools and the justice system. Stigma is one of the main reasons why this virus keeps spreading, one of the reasons why fewer than 40% of people living with HIV are aware of their status. Eventually I was able to start treatment and my health vastly improved."
As told by Paul Pirgin, a gay man who lives with HIV virus since 1992