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When It Comes to Hiv/aids

When it comes to HIV/AIDS, I am not in a high-risk group. In fact, I’m in a very low risk group. I am a heterosexual, monogamous male who has never used intravenous drugs and never had a blood transfusion. I don’t have any tatoos, I have never had any teeth extracted, and if you have heard of any other urban legends on how you can contract HIV, I probably haven’t done those either.

When it comes to HIV/AIDS, I am not in a high-risk group. In fact, I’m in a very low risk group. I am a heterosexual, monogamous male who has never used intravenous drugs and never had a blood transfusion. I don’t have any tatoos, I have never had any teeth extracted, and if you have heard of any other urban legends on how you can contract HIV, I probably haven’t done those either. And yet, the American Red Cross has banned me from donating blood because my blood tested HIV positive in one of their tests.

  “Your blood has been rejected…” What??!

  In 1998, my wife and I had settled into our third year of marriage, though we had been together for many years before that. We were living in Arlington, VA and I was working in downtown Washington, DC. My office sponsored a blood drive and I signed up.

  Why wouldn’t I? I was a healthy young man. I had given blood before, and I had been told I had excellent veins that were easy to draw blood from. I had never even had a bout of nausea while watching the blood drain from my arm. I was a perfect candidate, and I didn’t give the donation a second thought.

  About a month later, I received a letter in the mail from the American Red Cross. Since this was my first time donating blood in DC, I figured they were sending me a card with my blood type and a letter encouraging me to give blood often and asking if I’d be willing to give a monetary donation.

  Instead, the missive inside told me in blunt, impersonal medical-ese that my blood had been rejected because I was HIV positive. I was stunned. I read the opening paragraph again and again. There must be some mistake. How could I be HIV positive? I had plans. I was going to have raise a family and grow old with the woman I loved. I couldn’t be HIV positive.

  Phone Calls

  I don’t know how long I read that letter, but finally, I set it down in numbness. My wife was still at work, and I picked up the phone to call her. “Hi, Honey,” she answered.

  “Can you come home now?” I asked in a dull voice.

  “Well, I have a meeting in a few minutes, but after–”

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