Woman Explains How Ex Gave Her HIV but Life Has Never Been Better

Many people associate Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) with death, but Alana Beaumont, 38, insists her life began after her diagnosis in 2009. She has now found her life purpose: to normalize HIV and break down the stigma surrounding it.

There are currently 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV—and nearly one in eight are unaware that they are infected, according to the CDC.

Newsweek spoke to Beaumont and two doctors, who all confirmed HIV doesn't stop people from living a normal life.

Alana Beaumont, 38, uses her social media platform to raise awareness of HIV. Alana Beaumont

'HIV No Longer a Death Sentence'

HIV specialist, Emily Rymland, told Newsweek: "Someone with HIV can absolutely continue to have a happy, fulfilling life—including a thriving sex life. HIV is no longer a death sentence, it is a completely manageable chronic condition."

Rymland, the director of clinical operations at telemedicine company Nurx said that "amazing medication" can treat and prevent HIV.

'How Did You Get It?'

While Beaumont is very open about her diagnosis she is triggered by the question: "How did you get it?"

She said: "Every time someone asks that question, as an HIV-positive person, I am reminded of the trauma.

"People online often skip the niceties and just ask the question as though they are entitled to a reasonable response. I find there is no compassion in this question.

"I feel like they use that question to gauge where to place you on their empathy scale.

"If you got it from your boyfriend then they have sympathy but if you got it and didn't know about it, then you must have been sleeping around."

'I Felt Like My Soul Left My Body'

Beaumont, a self-love coach from Kent in the U.K., told Newsweek she had zero symptoms and found out she had the virus by chance. She now uses TikTok @cozshecandoit to raise awareness and encourage people to get tested.

She said: "I went along to a sexual health clinic with a friend, to support her, and I didn't want a test as I was only sleeping with my partner so I didn't see the need.

"But while I was waiting two nurses asked if I want to do one so in the end I said 'yes.'"

Two weeks later, Beaumont's world turned upside down as a physician told her she was HIV positive.

"I felt like my soul left my body and everything he said after the diagnosis, I didn't hear," she said. "I was in complete shock. I went into freeze response, I stood in front of the doctor and looked through him. It was really emotional and traumatic.

"My new reality was taking medication daily, which was hard to accept. It [was] very uncomfortable going into the clinic and I missed appointments as I was paranoid in case all the staff knew.

"It took me about a year to become comfortable with the medication. At the start, I'd miss days because it was a daily reminder that I had HIV."

By taking two tablets per day, Alana is Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), which means she cannot pass on the virus.

Newsweek reached out to an emergency physician, Ken Perry, who explained HIV medication has come a long way since the 1980s.

Back then, there wasn't any treatment available so the virus would attack a patient's immune system and lead to AIDS.

Despite the advances in treatment, some people don't want to take medication when they are first diagnosed.

Perry, who is based in Charleston, SC, told Newsweek: "Even with these amazing options for treatment, there still remains the fact that patients will have to admit to their HIV status in order to obtain these medications."

He said it may be difficult for a patient to get the treatment they need if the community in which they live still harbors prejudices about HIV.

"From getting the medications and possibly knowing someone in the pharmacy when they get their meds, to possibly meeting someone at the doctors' office who specializes in HIV, there can be ways that the patient may feel like their 'secret' will be found out." Perry said.

Beaumont revealed she used to wear clothes that made her look "less conspicuous" when picking up her medication. And she would often try to hide her face.

She was also plagued with anxiety, embarrassment, and paranoia about passing the virus on.

Beaumont said: "I used to be afraid to kiss my niece and nephew or share drinks; my thoughts were so irrational."

Expert Debunks HIV Myths

HIV stock image
A stock image of an HIV blood test. HIV medication has come a long way since the 1980s. Foremniakowski/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The most common way people contract HIV is through anal or vaginal sex, according to the CDC. The national public health agency also states "there is little to no risk" of getting HIV through oral sex. It is also possible for a mother who is HIV positive to transmit the virus on to her baby during birth, but the CDC states "the risk of transmission can be less than 1 percent" if the woman takes her medication throughout the pregnancy.

In some instances, HIV is transmitted through sharing syringes with someone who has the virus. The CDC has also highlighted how HIV does not survive for very long outside of the human body; the below list provided by the CDC states how HIV is not transmitted:

  • By mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects.
  • Through saliva, tears, or sweat.
  • By hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes, or closed-mouth or "social" kissing with someone who has HIV.
  • Through other sexual activities that don't involve the exchange of body fluids (for example, touching).
  • Through the air.

Rymland told Newsweek there is little understanding of the virus among the general population as it is a taboo subject that isn't spoken about enough.

She said: "Stigma keeps people silent, and silence perpetuates STIs/HIV. People always think it is others that will get infected with the mentality of, 'That can't happen to me, I am not gay or promiscuous.'"

Rymland said: "There is a common misconception that HIV is something only gay men are susceptible to. HIV is a human disease, anybody can be affected. The unfortunate fact that some people still consider HIV to be a gay disease prevents non-gay people from understanding that they're at risk and protecting themselves and others.

"I have treated so many HIV-positive straight men and women over the past 25 years who had no idea they were at risk. We need to get the message out that anybody who is sexually active and isn't 100 percent sure of their partner's status should be getting tested regularly and also considers taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is a safe, incredibly effective medication for preventing HIV but it's still not well-known outside of the gay community."

Beaumont revealed the reason she didn't consider getting tested is that she trusted her ex-partner and believed there was no need.

She said: "You can't just look in the mirror to determine if you have it. The only way to find out is through a test!"

'My Life Began After My HIV Diagnosis'

Beaumont has more than 54,000 followers on TikTok but not all viewers are happy to see her content. She has been asked to stop posting content about HIV and has been told she is going to die from AIDS.

In January, Beaumont posted a video of herself dancing; the on-screen text states: "My life began after my HIV diagnosis. U = U".


Stop stigmatising people with “the ghost state” because you don’t know that people with #hiv can live healthy long lives due to medication. The #aidsstigma needs to 💀. #aidsawareness #aids

♬ original sound - ur cute jeans

She said: "I started to get an urge inside of me to talk about it almost three years ago, so I did.

"I was comfortable with it at this stage. Being positive doesn't mean you have to be invisible.

"I feel so much happier since starting TikTok. I have also had therapy that has helped me heal from the old wounds and trauma I had, and I'm able to reconnect with myself and see myself as a person.

"I immediately go to the block button when trolled online. I've had people tell me I should be ashamed of myself and say I shouldn't talk about it and ask me why would I want to share something like this for the world to see.

"I do it to help people and the positive comments certainly outweigh the negative.

"It feels good when people comment to say I have helped. I am happy that I am able to say to people you are going to be fine as long as you have your medication and take it as prescribed.

"I am proof that you can have HIV and live your life.

"My page is comforting for people as they can see everything is going to be OK."