In the wake of Charlie Sheen, real people speak out about the tragic realities of living with HIV

Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been part of our society for at least 30 years, a definitive cure for the debilitating viruses have yet to be discovered.

It is, of course, a harrowing experience to live with an ultimately incurable virus. Surprisingly, though, the hardest aspect is often sharing your diagnosis with others in order to prevent them from acquiring the disease from you, or to let them know that they might have already contracted it.

Since HIV can be transmitted sexually, a positive diagnosis brings with it the difficult but necessary burden of informing past partners that they may have been exposed to a life-threatening illness.

Several men and women took to Whisper, the popular app that provides an anonymous platform for people to share their most honest thoughts, to share their heartbreaking experiences living with HIV.

Letting someone know that you might have given them HIV can be almost as torturous as finding out that you have the disease yourself:

Today I found out that I have HIV. I have three important phone calls to make and it

The virus might stand in the way of your professional dreams:

The most trying of times can make you appreciate the littlest of things:
Some people want a car, phone, or money. I

HIV carriers need to support their illnesses not just physically, but also financially:
I have HIV and I

Just because you feel like you'll persevere individually doesn't mean you feel safe among others:
I just found out I have HIV. I

With HIV, it can feel impossible to separate the virus from your personal life:

It might feel like the virus changes how others see you as a person:
I have HIV and I

Your entire identity can feel altered with just one diagnosis:
Many nights I cry myself to sleep knowing that no one will truly love me knowing that I

Anticipating a problem can wreck your emotions just as much as experiencing one:
I contracted HIV at 16. Worst feeling ever waiting for the sickness to start

You can never let your problems, no matter how severe, keep you from fighting as hard as you can:
Today is the 4 year mark from when I found out I had HIV. Today I

For more on what it's like to live with HIV, check out Whisper.​​

Find out more about the effect of HIV on modern-day society:
HIV Is Still Around but It's Possible to Live With It as Charlie Sheen Reminds Us
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