HEAL London

Health Education and AIDS Liaison - a more intelligent approach

Oppression Unlimited

Testimonial - Mike and Cornelius

I started off believing everything I was reading about HIV and AIDS right from the very beginning, but the first thing that caused me to suddenly question something was hearing that the HIV tests don't check for the virus but only look for antibodies. I thought at the time, "Hang on, I thought antibodies were a good thing?" - but because biology was not my subject and I had faith in authority at the time I thought, "they must know what they're doing". It was only some years later when I was paying for my own education that I started to come across people's experiences that contradicted what we were told, hearing that HIV+ diagnoses sometimes reverted, that some people were continuing to live healthily regardless of their diagnosis and so-on. I was also introduced to literature from credible scientists that were raising serious and unanswered questions about the whole thing, so having a long-standing interest in disasters I read a lot to understand what was going on.

In 1999 I got into a relationship with a guy and we were having unprotected sex, with him mostly as the active partner and me as the passive one. He'd had a number of health problems from birth, one of which was a congenitally damaged heart. His mother was both a nurse and a highly-religious prophet of doom, a deadly combination. As an example, while I was present she once asked him if he'd had a blood pressure check, and he said that the doctor said it was fine, to which she quickly added, "For your condition", which was undermining the notion that he could be ok.

What slowly emerged when he confided in me was that his Seventh Day Adventist upbringing had been pretty intensely oppressive, and he used to tell me stories that made me seethe with anger that people could be so cruel, and then he would sometimes sob on my shoulder at what had happened. Once he said through tears after relating some stories about his families attempts to help him become straight, "I don't know if I'm going to heaven or hell" existential stress of the highest order. Another time he cried, "Why did God put me through all that?", and he had a hard time accepting my suggestion that it was his immediate family, not God. Another time he told me about an exorcism he'd been put through which had left him traumatised and apparently needing psychiatric help.

On another occasion we went for a meal in the country and happened to drive along the road that had been his main route to college. He mentioned it and then burst out sobbing, as the journey along the route had been so highly associated with one of the most stressful times in his life emotionally it took him straight back there. He'd used to go and sit in a field rather than go home after college because he was so miserable at home. He had also taken steps to commit suicide when he was sent to Dominica for a year when he was 15 and he'd asked the doctor for some pills that would make him straight and been told there wasn't any such thing. He'd prepared for suicide again at 19 when his conflict with his family reached a peak.

He'd been partially treated like a slave as a ‘family obligation' in his parent's laundry business. His whole upbringing had been ‘family obligation' related and had not seemed to recognise his own needs. He'd been abused by a guy who he'd moved in with in desperation to escape from his family and had subsequently been raped by another acquaintance, who had correctly guessed that with his crushingly low self-esteem he would not report it to the police. Reading between the lines of experiences he related without sometimes appearing to be aware what was going on he had been abused or manipulated by nearly every guy he'd had some kind of relationship with.

He was a classic example of how some victims attract their attackers. But the ways in which he'd been manipulated and abused by those who thought they were doing the best for him was really eye-opening for me, especially as getting to know his family, I saw tiny glimpses of it, even though his relationship with them was much improved. For example, after his family got to know me, and appeared to accept me (they were always very hospitable), for a couple of weeks he was walking on air and he was transformed into a much happier, bolder person. It was as if in accepting me and being in full knowledge of the nature of our relationship, they were finally accepting him as he was. Then after visiting them again without me they told him, "Of course, you realise we could never support such a relationship". He came home totally crushed because he realised they did not accept him as he was after all.

I discussed with him what I'd found out about AIDS and he was interested but not particularly academic. But he was very trusting of authority and when he was advised at work  to get tested (he worked in healthcare) he did, against my advice. I went with him to get the result, and he was diagnosed HIV+. He was absolutely distraught, completely torn apart. To him the diagnosis meant punishment from God for being gay, it implied further rejection by his parents who had said when they found out he was gay when he was 14, "If you get AIDS you'll be sent to a sanatorium to die", and after feeling that his childhood had been taken away already it meant to him that his adulthood was going to be taken away from him as well.

I think it was very fortunate that I'd already learnt a fair bit about dissenting perspectives about AIDS before he was diagnosed because if I hadn't, it would have caused panic in me. As it was, there is a massive difference between abstractly looking at a situation from an academic perspective, compared to having it shoved right in your face all over a sudden. Although I reassured him by reminding him some of the things I'd previously learnt and told him, it also caused me to very rapidly and very closely re-examine everything I'd previously read and a whole lot more, from both sides, to be sure all over again which side made the most sense.

It really only took me a few days to be clear that I had far more faith in my own ability to work out what was really going on than I had faith in medical science, and so I told Cornelius, "I don't believe you have anything infectious to give me, we'll carry on having unprotected sex as we were before". I also checked my intuition inside and I got a firm answer that it was the right thing to do. So we carried on having what is allegedly the most dangerous sex to have unprotected with the active partner diagnosed positive and the passive partner diagnosed negative. Importantly from my perspective though, neither of us used any recreational drugs or had ever used them and so I didn't consider his semen would be toxic in any way either.

Then, being sucked into the whole AIDS medical establishment, he came under intense pressure to start taking co-trimoxazole as a minimum, ‘to prevent pneumonia' but preferably with some AIDS drugs too. I did some more research about them and persuaded him not to take those. About nine months after his diagnosis he told me that he considered I'd saved his life twice already - once by continuing the relationship and giving him hope so stopping him from committing suicide, and once from dissuading him not to take the drugs.

It's worth mentioning some low level health problems he'd had for a long time began to clear up when I paid for him to see a therapist I knew well for several sessions. For example, he used to be very susceptible to fungal infections behind his ears, and they stopped. His skin quality on his face improved. After one session where he was dealing with his oppressive upbringing his asthma stopped and never returned, despite never even bringing it up during the therapy session. I subsequently found out that Louise L. Hays says the cause of asthma is ‘smother love, inability to breathe for oneself, suppressed crying' - a description he said was 99% correct in relation to his circumstances.

There were some other different needs within the relationship though and about 18 months after we'd started the relationship I had reached a point where I couldn't continue with it and ended it. Cornelius was extremely distraught at this, coupled with some distress at his parents retiring to their Caribbean island, and I noticed that his hands were constantly shaking. When I moved away and kept away from him for a while he had apparently stopped eating and looking after himself, lost weight drastically (he was very slim to start off with) and ended up with pneumonia and in an isolation ward in St Georges hospital in Tooting. I kept away for a while because I didn't want him to become dependent on me, but eventually went to see him and he'd become shockingly thin. From his description of the situation, the domineering hospital staff behaved just like his domineering parents and he hated being there.

A few days later he called me, asking me to take him home as he'd rather die there than in hospital. He clearly sounded desperate on the phone so I went to get him, with the idea that I'd take him to my local hospital instead. I was really shocked at just how skeletal he'd become: He looked like someone rescued from a Nazi concentration camp, and you could see nearly all his bones, his eyes were sunken in, his mouth was drawn back and he was very weak. He behaved like a traumatised animal, his whole body was shaking constantly and his eyes had the expression of a frightened old man who has lost control and knows that the end of his life is near - and he was only 22 years old. I couldn't understand how he had become like this so quickly. Of course, classically it would have been blamed on HIV, but that would be to ignore his fairly extreme psychological circumstances.

I took him away when the medical staff weren't looking and took him to my place that night. He still wouldn't eat despite my efforts to persuade him and was still shaking all the time except when he was asleep. The next day he suddenly started to eat but was having difficulty breathing so we called an ambulance. I was almost relieved when the ambulance people took control because I thought there was a 50% chance he'd die in my care and I was concerned about what would happen to me. But the ambulance staff and the staff at my local hospital - the L&D near Luton - were fantastic. He very quickly began to relax and also I think looking back a critical factor was that I told him that when he got better he had better stay with me for a while. The overall effect though was that this was the third time it seemed as though I'd plucked him from the jaws of death, and even his mother thanked me for saving his life on this occasion.

However, he also decided to tell them at this point he was diagnosed HIV+. and both his mum and dad wrote letters to him that caused me to boil with rage, invoking fire and brimstone. Had he not wanted the letters destroyed I would have kept them to show people what evil sentiments can be expressed to someone they supposedly love because of their religious fixation. Additionally, to help him feel better, his mother said to him around this time after hearing about his HIV+ diagnosis, "Son, you've only got a short time to live". Cornelius said that he could feel the words sinking in to his body as she said them, and knew he had to make a conscious mental effort to reject them if he was not to end up being nearly dead again. He said this was the first time he truly realised of the power of other people's words against you, especially the power of words from people you allow to influence you.

Despite that, his recovery was pretty close to miraculous, even though he was on the same non-AIDS drugs that he'd been on for some while at St Georges, and within about a month he was well enough to come to stay with me. He was very happy, although I still had it in my mind that it was only temporary until he'd recovered. But his recovery was so rapid that only a couple of months at being at my place he went by himself to Amsterdam for a weekend to see a friend of his from some years ago. However, it was also notable that if I went away for a few days somewhere, he would suddenly become ill and he would call me back early in distress.

Shortly after he'd been admitted to the L&D hospital they had done a number of blood tests, and after when he went back to see the AIDS specialist, the CD4 count was only 9. According to AIDS dogma, that indicated almost imminent vulnerability to any disease, yet this was at the start of his dramatic recovery. For most of the time he was at my place he didn't catch anything, which from a very personal experienced called into question the notion that CD4 counts are a reliable indicator of immune system strength, confirming other things I'd read.

He also wanted me to come with him to challenge his AIDS doctor with the things I was telling him, so he could see us debate it face to face. This was the first time I had actually challenged a medical professional with what I knew, so I went with plenty of documentation. The doctor was at first pleased at the prospect of answering my questions, but when I challenged the very basis of AIDS with supporting documentation (HIV test inserts, viral load test inserts, published papers and so-on), he became very flustered, backed himself into a corner by saying something that didn't make sense and then literally screamed at me. The conversation went something like this:

Cornelius: I've brought my friend with me to ask you some questions about my condition.

Doctor Kegg: Excellent, excellent, fire away.

Mike: Well, I've been doing some investigation and it appears that HIV tests aren't as reliable as they are made out to be.

Doctor Kegg: Have you been reading that on the internet? That's rubbish, HIV tests are extremely reliable these days, in fact they're probably the most reliable diagnostic test in use today. Once the preliminary test has been confirmed there really is no doubt.

Mike: Well, I've got a manufacturer's HIV test leaflet here and it says that (reading) "someone with HIV antibodies is presumed to have the virus", but it also says that there is no agreement on how to tell if someone has the antibodies or not. (offers leaflet to doctor)

Doctor Kegg: (recoiling and refusing to touch HIV test insert) yes, of course there are occasionally false positives, but the confirmation western blot is extremely reliable.

Mike: But the western blot test isn't part of the official diagnosis in England and Wales, and in fact it hasn't been since 1992 because Dr Philip Mortimer of the health protection agency said it was too unreliable.

Doctor Kegg: Ah...well....it's really down to the labs. We've found it to be extremely reliable. And anyway the individual tests are extremely reliable and once you've repeated it, you've virtually eliminated any chance of error [Note: this is fallacious reasoning because subsequent tests are not independent events like the rolling of dice, the same antibodies that can trigger false positives in one test may well trigger a false positive in the second that is based on the same original proteins].

Mike: But the test leaflet indicates the accuracy was not from testing HIV tests against actual HIV itself, just from assuming that blood donors were negative and people in hospital were positive. That's not proving the test is reliable.

Doctor Kegg: Obviously the manufacturers want to protect themselves from any possible legal action but we would not be using the tests if they had never been validated against HIV. It's ridiculous to say they aren't reliable.

Mike: Well, I've got a list here of about 60 other factors that have been shown to trigger false positives on HIV tests.

Doctor Kegg: And who wrote that? A practising AIDS specialist?

Mike: No, it was written by a journalist.....

Doctor Kegg: well, I can't take that seriously.

Mike: ...from published medical literature. Hepatitis B vaccination has been referred to four times in medical literature, and Cornelius had his diagnosis just after having had his Hepatitis B vaccination.

Doctor Kegg: You're talking about extremely rare events. Extremely rare. There's no question that Cornelius has HIV. His pneumonia, his low CD4 count...

Mike: He got pneumonia when he was very depressed and he'd been starving himself for months and had lost a lot of weight. It says on the NHS website that protein calorie malnutrition is the most common cause of PCP. [Note: It used to say that. That's all disappeared now]

Doctor Kegg: Right....Right....but his low CD4 count, his viral load....

Mike: I've got a manufacturer's viral load test leaflet here, and it says that you can't use them for confirming the presence of HIV, so... (offering viral load test leaflet to doctor)

Doctor Kegg: (flustered and refusing to look at viral load leaflet) Well, we don't use them for confirming the diagnosis itself, just for monitoring the treatment....(jumping up, screaming and in a rage) LOOK, HE'LL DIE IN A YEAR IF HE DOESN'T TAKE THE DRUGS"  [note: it doesn't make sense to use viral load tests to monitor the success of treatment in terms of how well the treatment is ‘suppressing HIV' if the viral load test itself can't even tell you if there is any or no HIV at all.]

Cornelius said afterwards that the doctor jumping up and screaming that he'd die within a year had really scared him and then said, "Every time I go to see the AIDS doctor I feel ill. I'm not going any more".

We knew he hadn't resolved all his psychological issues and I had been made redundant so couldn't afford to pay for him any more, so we tried to get his doctor to get some therapy for him. His doctor was very aggressive about it and said that it was his state of mind that was stopping him taking the AIDS drugs, which was totally not what he wanted the agenda to be, so not wanting a therapist to persuade him to take them, he didn't go. To give you an idea of how he felt though, battling with family over his sexuality and with the medical establishment over AIDS, he sobbed on my shoulder again one day, "I feel like I'm fighting against the whole world".

Although he'd had such a hard religious upbringing I thought he'd subsequently got over the religious stuff but it became apparent he hadn't, as he started to behave a bit strangely towards me (which he later said had been disgust and contempt because of my sexuality, which he was also directing at himself), and then confessed he was feeling desperately suicidal about being gay again. I suggested that as he'd spent 22 years hearing Christians say how bad it was to be gay, it would probably be a good idea to at least listen to some Christians who say it's ok to be gay, and then he could make up his mind properly, a suggestion he readily accepted.

So we found some suitable documentation, in the first instance a book called Reluctant Journey which can be read in its entirety at www.reluctantjourney.co.uk. This highlighted some of the errors in translation and interpretation that made it seem as if the Bible totally condemns gay people, from a very Christian perspective which was what he wanted. After reading this Cornelius said, "I feel like my death sentence has been lifted", and he also felt for the first time in his life, as if he had direct communication with God, instead of God talking to the rest of his family instead of him. This was massively important for his feeling of well-being. He no longer called himself Seventh Day Adventist, and was determined to talk to his old church to explain how they were wrong about homosexuality - an incredibly brave thing for him to do. Unfortunately though, it yet again seemed to him that I had stepped in and saved his life, this time both literally and spiritually, making four times in different ways in only a couple of years.

After Cornelius had been staying in my flat for about eight months I was increasing the pressure on him to move out now he was better. I wanted to move on and it is not realistic to start a new relationship when your ex boyfriend is still sharing your bed, even if you aren't having sex any more. And I was emotionally and financially exhausted too. He resisted moving out, and I knew he really wanted us to be in a relationship again. As I began to put on pressure, he began to be not very well again.

One day at my insistence he had supposedly gone to see about getting accommodation for himself again, but came back very distraught, giving some explanation for it that I didn't believe. What I didn't know is that he had instead gone to see a mutual friend - my previous ex - who also had a pastoral role with him, and he had gone to get some advice on getting back in a relationship with me. My previous ex had correctly told him that he was sure I didn't want to be in a relationship with him again. From that point he seemed to be weaker, although the hospital couldn't find anything specifically wrong.

But then there was another extraordinary event that needs to be mentioned because it demonstrates both the intense level of personal oppression Cornelius had experienced from childhood and how psychological factors seemed to have a profound influence on his physiological well-being. Cornelius had never ridden a bike, and I wasn't quite clear whether he'd been specifically been banned from riding because of his heart condition or if his parents had merely terrified him into not wanting to ride a bike out of fear of death because of his heart condition, but the effect was the same. He decided that he was going to learn to ride a bike after all, so, keen to support this expression of independence that would also give him more mobility, I walked with him to the local bike supermarket in Luton to help him choose one.

While we were there it became apparent he was becoming tense about actually buying the bike, and after he'd decided which one he wanted, he found himself resistant to actually making the purchasing decision as if he feared something terrible would happen if he did. He asked me to formally 'buy' the bike for him and he was going to hand over the money. I regarded this as a sign of dependence as if I was a substitute parent, and I thought to agree to this would not help him deal with the issue he was clearly facing, and I was also keen to reduce his dependence on me, so i told him that as it was his bike and his money, he would have to be the one to buy it. It was shocking watching the psychological struggle to step forward and say which one he wanted, and it reminded me of how I felt the first time I was ever in a sexual situation with another guy. On that occasion I'd had immense fear of taking that first step of making physical contact, so was driven forward by need and held back by fear. Cornelius appeared to be going through the same level of intense internal conflict.

When someone has made a purchase they've been looking forward to that gives them more freedom and so-on, like a first car, normally they are very pleased and their enthusiasm normally bursts through their manner. This was not what happened with Cornelius: Instead, once we'd got out of the shop he asked me to walk with the bike because he felt weak, and we walked to some nearby benches. He collapsed onto the bench and sobbed for several minutes as if there had just been some enormous emotional release of some very distressing episode from the past that had been bottled up for years. But afterwards, despite the fact that he'd walked to the bike shop without any apparent problem, he felt too weak to walk home and decided to get a taxi, so I rode his bike home for him.

The following day he felt his legs were so weak he couldn't even get out of bed. It turned out that walking to the bike shop to buy a bike was the last time he walked any significant distance unaided, and the act of buying the bike seemed to correspond with an almost instanteous deterioration in his health. The local hospital was unable to find anything specifically wrong and essentially accused him of making it up, which distressed him. Pretty much from that point he had to be helped everywhere which was very draining for me because I'd practically become a nurse to him. It was almost as if his body was deliberately preventing him from riding the bike he'd just bought.

From that point his health began a rapid decline, and he became rapidly weaker, although medical staff couldn't find anything wrong as such. I arranged with his sisters for him to stay with them, but the day before I took him, I went with him to his family doctor as he was becoming so weak. In front of the doctor Cornelius became almost unable to speak and I had to speak for him, and the doctor was very arrogant and dismissive, saying his health problems were all because he wasn't taking the AIDS drugs. Clearly there was something wrong though and I had to insist that the doctor examine him. He gave him a very cursory examination and didn't find anything specific and clearly didn't seem to care, it seems because Cornelius wasn't taking the AIDS drugs the doctor didn't really want to know.

The next day I was due to take him to his sisters' flat, but before we set off I asked him to imagine living by himself, because I was still puzzling over why he was so resistant to getting his own place. When he visualised living by himself he began to shake violently and said he didn't believe he could survive by himself. In my opinion, this was as a result of the perpetually oppressive attitude of his parents regarding his health. It was almost as if they had unconsciously wanted him to be a tragic victim, and it seemed they'd psychologically doomed him from the start.

As we began the journey to his sisters' he became increasingly unwell, and after dropping most of his stuff there I took him straight to Kings College hospital. By the time we got there he was delirious and unable to walk at all. I can remember that his heart rate was about 145 with a high temperature and they put him straight into the resuscitation ward. It transpired he had a serious heart infection in BOTH faulty heart valves - he had previously only told me he had one faulty heart valve. They said the heart infection must have started about 4 weeks previously, which was about the time he'd gone to see my previous boyfriend that I still didn't know about. It also raised the issue that the doctor's examination the day before had been so useless it hadn't spotted such a serious infection.

Cornelius began to recover in hospital and slowly became more conscious. I remember clearly though once when his sisters were there at the same time, they were saying they were looking forward to having him at home again. Despite being only partially conscious and very weak, he found the strength to say that, "Yes, but none of that family worship stuff" - a frequent ritual at home he'd often been the victim of by being made to feel inadequate in some way, either over sexuality or failing to meet some other unattainable standard his parents had set for him.

I'd been visiting him every day for about 8 days. Though I had decided that if it was a life-or-death matter he could come back to stay with me, I made it clear to him that he wasn't going to because I didn't want to encourage him to be ill again so he could come back to stay with me. On the 9th day I'd run out of money as I was unemployed at that time and couldn't go to see him but we spoke on the phone. I was certain though he was hiding something from me but said he was fine - his voice sounded physically better, but psychologically he sounded more stressed, and I didn't believe him when he said "No" to me asking if there was something the matter.

Early in the morning of the 10th day I was called by the hospital to say he'd died. That was the most distressing event of my life because even though I'd not wanted to be his partner any more, I still loved him and wanted the best for him, and he was still so young - only 23 at that point. It was only when I told our friends that my previous boyfriend had told me about Cornelius's visit. Apparently Cornelius had said that he loved me and would have had my babies if he could, regarded my flat as his home and he had apparently been absolutely adamant that he'd rather die than be separated from me, despite his confidant trying to persuade him to tone down the intensity of that declaration.

Of course his death was recorded as being due to AIDS, although his mother reckoned he'd caught MRSA, I suspect to ease her own feelings. To the AIDS orthodoxy of course it would look like vindication of their stance that he died of AIDS because he didn't take their AIDS drugs. In my opinion if he'd believed what they said he'd have died much sooner, from suicide at least. For several reasons I think his heart infection was symbolically a broken heart. He had a striking tendency to have health problems that were symbolic of psychological issues, and certainly his reaction over buying a bike and the correlation with a sudden decrease in his strength was striking.

For example, after finding out that one guy he'd had a relationship with had been deliberately manipulating him emotionally to make the sex better, he went into shock and literally the next day shingles started, only round the groin area, and he said, "I feel violated". In other words, having shingles - a skin / physical boundary problem - round his groin, symbolically represented that he felt his boundaries had been violated in connection with his groin area. This correlation has subsequently been confirmed by medical literature from Dr Hamer - www.newmedicine.ca

I don't think he could see an end to fighting over his sexuality or over his HIV diagnosis, and he was totally exhausted fighting over both of those. Although I'd tried to persuade him that there were plenty of decent guys that might be better suited to him, his declarations to our friend and other comments he made to me and others suggested he really wanted to stay with me at that time and didn't want to go back into the same family environment that had been the source of so much oppression when he was growing up - yet still hadn't believe he could survive by himself. One of his therapists, when I told him what had happened, said to me, "His boundaries had been so comprehensively trampled as a child it could have taken years to build them back up again". Even though he was only 23, for several reasons including some I have not detailed for brevity, I think he eventually died because he'd just had enough and decided to stop fighting and let go.

But because he undeniably had died, again I heavily re-visited a lot of what I'd read on both sides of the debate about AIDS, just to check once more - could I have been wrong?  Although it would have been horrible to think I may have hastened his death by giving him incorrect advice if I was wrong - something I was very woundingly accused of by one of my closest friends who hadn't really investigated the issue when I was still grieving - I needed to be sure which was right because I didn't want to incorrectly advise anybody else if I had been wrong. Again, when I examined the evidence, it was even more clear to me that I had been right, and I concluded the doctor who had predicted his death had been right only for the wrong reasons. But I found the grief fairly debilitating for at least the next six months and lingering thereafter.

In summary, I think his experience highlighted both the determined arrogance of the medical profession, and how for some people at least, the stress of the diagnosis itself and its apparent implications can set them on a path of decline, so the diagnosis becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. For a guy who had been brought up to have such faith in authority, especially with his mum having been a nurse, having the whole medical profession acting in such a callous way towards him with regard to HIV and bullying him to take AIDS drugs was very stressful for him. Yet patients who unquestioningly follow their instructions are ‘loved' by the doctors. It gave me an insight as to why some people who compliantly follow their doctor's instructions can survive for a surprisingly long time, whereas those who try to challenge authority can end up getting psychologically and physiologically brought to their knees by the system. It also seemed to highlight to me some limitations of medical authority in that their view is blinkered and factors that may be very significant are just not even taken into consideration.

That and the whole religious and family oppression of his sexuality from a young age as well as other ways in which he was heavily undermined or abused along the way, and the actual physiological defects he had just put him in such a vulnerable place even before his HIV+ diagnosis. And he'd had his HIV test just a month after having his last Hepatitis B vaccination too, which originally I didn't know could trigger false positive HIV+ diagnoses.  Well, we know that in general black people produce more antibodies than white people so being black meant he was already much more likely to be falsely diagnosed HIV+, especially as his doctor said he had so many Hep B antibodies it was as if he'd already had Hepatitis B before.

I should add that I subsequently had HIV tests but not because I believed in them. Six months after we'd last had sex Cornelius was very concerned that I might have caught HIV from him, even though I had explained to him on multiple occasions why I didn't believe in it, but to put his mind at rest I had a test. This was negative, despite having deliberately been on the receptive end of unprotected sex with him about another 70 times after his HIV+ diagnosis. I had two more tests when I was negotiating co-parenting arrangements with women who insisted on me having an HIV test first. Both were negative.