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Two Minutes of Advice on Testing HIV Positive

This is a clever social media campaign: Healthline, an online health community, has asked people who have been living with HIV to create videos for those who have recently tested positive, known as “You’ve Got This.” Think of it as “It Gets Better” for those with HIV.

Of course, I had to create a video in my own peculiar way — something that demonstrates the sense of humor that has served me well over the course of 30 years living with HIV. Maybe my video will help someone you know.

To be honest, I barely remember testing positive in 1985, when the test became publicly available (my doctor and I estimate my infection occurred as far back as 1981). I was already self-medicating with a growing drug addiction — it was Los Angeles, I was young and stupid, and people started dying; cocaine seemed like a reasonable response at the time — and the test result felt like my license to continue using.

GotThisTitleGrabToday, it’s hard for me to recall a time in which I was afraid of becoming infected. I only know a life living with the virus, and my fears of HIV itself are long past. So I should probably approach any advice for the newly infected with care. They are experiencing a profound event that happened to me a lifetime ago. I hope my light touch will give them a needed lift or bring them a smile.

It’s easy for me to make the mistake of assuming new infections only happen to younger people, and I even make an apologetic joke in the video about my being “old.” The fact is, most new infections in the United States happen to people over 30, not under. We might want to check ourselves when we bemoan infections among “these kids today,” (although of the various age groups with new infections, those under 30 remains the largest).

What’s your advice to someone who just tested positive? Please share it in the comments section below!





  1. Jonathan Goldman September 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Well put Mark; but, you missed an almost certain experience I’ve heard about from the many callers to Project Inform’s HIV Wellness Infoline at 1-800.822.7422. And, that is seeing someone’s mouth moving though not registering at all what it is they are saying.

    Project Inform has an excellent series of FREE brochures available on line and by request via email or phone, “After You’ve Tested Positive,” “Considering Treatment & Your Health Care,” and “Now That You’ve Started Treatment.” One can also request that it be mailed to you care of your physician’s office if you don’t want to receive it at home. http://www.projectinform.org/hivhealth/

    (Thanks for those points, and for the resource! — Mark)

  2. Nancy September 29, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Way to go little brother! I really loved this. It takes a King to handle this type of video with humor AND compassion. We Kings have learned to laugh through the toughest of times! It’s a gift our parents gave us. 🙂
    Love, Big Sis Nancy
    (Thanks, Sis. — Mark)

  3. Jackie September 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

    As always Mark, you are an amazing advocate. Bright, funny and hopeful. Xoxo
    (My pleasure. Thanks for the encouragement! — Mark)

  4. David Patient October 1, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Oh Mark, I can so relate to your message and a lot of your story…wonderful clip!!!
    (xoxoxo — Mark)

  5. Nomawethu October 2, 2013 at 5:34 am

    I love myself,my family and my friends. I love life and I have too many reason to live, so I will not let HIV stop my wishes and goals in life. So if you just diagnosed positive don’t let this disease derail you from your future plans, get up and go!

  6. Josh Robbins || imstilljosh October 2, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Mark for your leadership & important voice in the HIV community. http://www.imstilljosh.com/encouragement-for-newly-hiv-infected/

  7. Steven H. October 3, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Wow, so nicely put. Mark you continue, with this video to help educate all of us about HIV and how to live with it. I know this video will help encourage those to get moving. Thank You, Thank you, Thank You

  8. Alberto January 6, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Well done Mark!!! great man like you still exist in this world.

    Years ago i dated a HIV+ bloke and he was really special. He did have the sense of humor as you have and showed me the importance of not jugging people whatever their condition is.

    And buy the way you do not look old to me, if you ever come to London I would love to go for a drink with you.

    All the best!!!


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