Growing up HIV positive

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHALRES, LA (KPLC) – After battling childhood cancer, Ben Banks thought the worst was over until doctors said he was HIV positive. Banks remembers the first time he heard the life altering news: "I was walking up the stairs in the house and I turned the corner and saw my mom crying on the bed. I innocently asked my mom, 'Why are you crying?' She said, 'The doctors called. You're HIV positive."

A tainted blood transfusion during his cancer treatment infected him with the incurable virus.

"When my friends in eighth grade were worried about who they were going to sit with at lunch, I had to worry about how I was going to keep HIV a secret," explained Banks.

While growing up, he recalls the cruelty and discrimination toward people with HIV. Banks kept his disease a secret throughout grade school, but now he has come out of hiding. He is sharing his story in hopes of fighting the stigma of HIV.

"There are still people out there that have shown ignorance towards HIV and that I believe comes from fear and lack of education," said Banks.

Banks has an HIV negative wife and he plans to have kids someday.

"There is a chance that we will have children and both mother and child will be safe," assured Banks.

He also pointed out the difference between HIV and AIDS saying AIDS is only a stage of HIV when a person's white blood cell count declines. Banks takes only one pill per day to control the virus and he plans to live to 103 years old.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.