Meet Dylan. In 2016, at 19 years old, he was struck by a severe flu, coinciding with rehearsals for a competition he eagerly participated in. However, on the morning of the scheduled meeting, he found himself bedridden and unable to attend. Despite routine STI checkups without prior issues, the severity of the flu prompted him to seek another checkup afterward.

Upon recovering from the flu, Dylan accompanied a friend for a checkup. Two weeks later, he received a call from the STI facility requesting his presence for a discussion. Nervously, he went in, accompanied by a friend. A nurse, recognizing him, sat Dylan down and inquired about his well-being. Preemptively, Dylan responded, “I think I know why you’ve called me here.”

The nurse hesitated before gently breaking the news, “Dylan, there’s no easy way to say this, but your results came back positive for HIV.” At that moment, he felt an overwhelming numbness. Emotions eluded him—no sadness, fear, just a void. His immediate reaction was to mention his online presence, stating, “I’m going to have to speak about this and share my story.”

The nurse wisely urged him to take a moment and process the news, but Dylan couldn’t. He shut down emotionally as a form of self-preservation. Immediately after the diagnosis, he started medication—a single pill each day. However, instead of facing his emotions head-on, he resorted to drugs, alcohol, and partying to cope, plunging into self-destructive behaviour to evade reality.

Since that fateful day, Dylan’s life has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, plagued by self-doubt, ridicule, shame, and guilt. Much of it stemmed from his own lack of education about HIV. Despite knowing he couldn’t transmit it, those feelings lingered. Thankfully, Dylan had a supportive network of people around him, constantly reminding him everything would be okay.

Now, eight years later, Dylan finds himself sharing his story. To anyone experiencing a similar situation, he wants to reassure you—it will be okay. The treatment and understanding of HIV have progressed tremendously. It’s no longer the dire prognosis it once was.

Dylan is thriving and lives undetectable, ensuring he cannot pass the virus on to anyone else.