life stores

Scott Armstrong Attempted Suicide 4 Times And Picked Up HIV Along The Way. Then Everything Changed

The first time I remember hearing about AIDS was in 1985, I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I remember my teacher talking about how it affected the immune system. I think the next significant discussion, for me, was in 1987 when the issue of AIDS was dressed on the television sitcom Designing Women. There were the updates of the spread of the epidemic, the discoveries of how it was transmitted, and who was truly affected by it. Then in 1992 a good friend of my parents was diagnosed. I remember hearing how his wife treated him, the concerns about how long he would be around, and what would happen to him.

My parents never treated him differently, my mom still hugged him, my dad still joked around with him and I still enjoyed being around him. He was still the same friend that we had always known. He got remarried to a young woman who also had AIDS, and they had what they called their miracle baby. She was born without the virus, this would have been around the time that research was showing that babies born to positive mothers could be negative as long as they did not breast feed. What an amazing occurrence that was.

I went several years with really no thought of HIV/AIDS. I was 22 when I came out and was introduced to this whole new world of gay culture. Who knew that there were so many gay bars and so many gay men in Denver and the surrounding metro areas, I sure didn’t. I was newly out, overweight, and had a very negative self image. Bars were not really my scene, I loved going dancing and the environment but did not meet my, shall we call them, “physical” needs.

This was also right around the same time that internet chat rooms started becoming popular. Now that was my arena. I was prime bait for those older guys that wanted some young fun. I was new to all of this, curious, and horny….. ALOT!! I rarely ever used a condom when I was hooking up, I didn’t think about it, and most of the guys did not want to use one.

The first time I went and got tested was strictly peer pressure. I had went with my best friend to get tested, she had experienced an alcohol induced lapse in judgement and was worried about having contracted and STD. She asked me if I would go with her to local STD clinic to get tested. While she was checking my friend in, the nurse asked me if I wanted to get tested. I promptly said “NO”, they harassed me into it.

After the exam, blood draws, and all the other violations of my personal space, I was informed I could call in 3 days to get the results of all the tests except for the HIV test. For the HIV test I would need to wait a week and actually have to come in for it. I decided there was no way I was going to go back to that place. I forgot about the tests altogether, that is until I was talking to the same friend I went and got tested with. She told me she had called and everything was good, they had even given her the HIV results over the phone. I was surprised by this being that they told me I would have to come in for the HIV results, she said to me, “Oh, that’s only if it comes back positive.” She was pressuring me to call and get the results, I told her I really did not even want to know.

After being badgered for several hours I agreed to call and get my results. So the next day I called, gave them my name and they gave me the results of all except the HIV test. They told me I needed to come in for those. I immediately panicked, I called another good friend of mine at work and told him that I needed him to go with me. I explained what had transpired, he did what any good friend would do and comforted me.

I got to the clinic and they me and my friend in a waiting room. A nurse came in and greeted me, she was smiling and full of cheer, I on the other hand was sitting crying and waiting for my death sentence. She told me she had the results of my test, I wanted to her to just get on with it. Then I heard the words I was waiting for: the nurse told me that my test came back … NEGATIVE!!!! All this pomp and circumstance for a NEGATIVE test. I was, however, elated. She asked me what I was going to to do to keep my status the same. I swore I was never going to have sex again. She laughed and told me to use condoms. I promptly went out to the bar that night to celebrate my negative test, I had another celebration of my negative status later that night. So much for swearing off sex.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #aids #barebacksex #health stories and more


  • Qjersey

    No disrespect to this man and his journey. But Do as I Say and Not as I Did, has never worked for parents.

    I want to hear the stories of the other “survivors,” men who have been sexually active and have successfully stayed HIV negative. Those men we may be able to learn something from.

  • Beau Colby

    “To my dismay I woke up the next morning,” – Page 6, 4th Paragraph…Sorry Mr. Armstrong, I read this far and I’ve have similar circumstances but, you lost me here…Get help man. BC

  • Pattern?

    When every relationship ends in violence, abuse and a “web of lies”…coincidence?

  • t money

    after the first failed attempt i would have moved to ligatures, trains, guns. something that would DEFINITELY kill me.

    that being said… thank you for not being too invested in killing yourself. otherwise we would never hear about your journey and the great work you are doing now.
    keep it up.

    but if you ever feel like killing yourself again, dont use pills. you know they dont work.


  • Rick Gold

    Four times?!?!


    That is depressing enough to make want to kill myself.

  • Kevin

    Thank you Scott for bearing your soul; you are a true testament to someone who has risen up and is speaking up about HIV/AIDS! Through the tears you made me smile. I am glad you are still here to tell your story!

  • Shannon1981

    I think what you are doing is great. Best of luck to you. No more pills and booze and needles, ok?

  • Scott Armstrong

    @Shannon1981: Shannon thank you for your supportive words. I am in a much better place now and feel like I have a purpose and reason to live.

  • Scott Armstrong

    @t money: T Money, thanks for the words of advice, I am glad that you got the point of the story.

  • Scott Armstrong

    @Kevin: Kevin, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story. My life is better for knowing you. It is thanks to you that my story is here to receive both the positive and negative comments. You are a great friend.

  • Erick

    Thank you for sharing your story. It does matter. I truly wish you the best.

  • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)

    @Scott Armstrong:

    Good for you Scott and proud. Why on earth do people choose Queerty the most self hating gay site? Peope as well as the editors are really mean to gay people here.

    Oh well, you can google and you are a big bog. Alll the best. :-)

  • GetBalance

    @Scott Armstrong

    Very touching story, thx for sharing it. I’m wondering, do you think all the pain you went through was to get you to a place where you needed to learn to give yourself unconditionally to humanity? Like it’s always been your true calling but you needed to do what you did to get there which may have created deeper meaning in your life and yourself? Just curious as I’m looking at a thing that i have always meant to do and haven’t completed yet, and things are not all that peachy and that I need to do it to get happier, which I’m taking baby steps at. It seems like the place you are now, is very humanitarian oriented and a great place to arrive after your ordeals.

  • Ken S

    It isn’t my intention to be demeaning but is that a symptom of a depressive disposition- having *such* a disproportionate reaction to relationship break-ups? My first 4 boyfriends all dumped me- at least one of them so that he could pursue friends he’d met through me- and sure it hurt and it sucked but I never once thought that I should kill *myself* over it. And even now, if my partner of ~8 years were to leave me tomorrow, it would hurt and it would suck but it sure as shit wouldn’t make me want to die; I just can’t relate to such a totally overwrought emotional reaction at all, I don’t understand it. It sounds like fixing whatever’s short-circuiting when a relationship ends would be the most helpful thing

  • Isaak

    Yea… im not reading all that…

  • Pete

    We read this story about AIDS and its consequences, yet there is another post here at Queerty where the editor is arguing that he was his porn condom free. I guess he forgets that there arre thousands of persons working in the porn industry, exposing thousands of others, and he wants his pix without condoms. let them be the ones to get infected.

  • Cam

    One of the things I never got, was in the story you kept saying that you knew you would be crazy if you stayed in the hospitals any longer so you always convinced them to let you go.

    You were trying to commit suicide because of a break-up, I’m just wondering why you never really thought that perhaps you actually could use some extreamly intensive hospital based therepy.

  • Scott Armstrong

    @Cam: I believe what I said was those people were crazy, I was depressed. I needed to get out of there because I did not feel like I belonged with those patients. The patients in that hospital had severe personality disorders and such. I honestly thought that I could handle my problems on my own.

    I was jot trying to kill myself over a break up, it was a culmination of these things going on in my life and the break up was the final straw.

    I know now that I was wrong about that. With that being said, I will also say that none of my stays in hospitals really ever did any good either. In these facilities the doctors spent no more than 15 minutes talking to me before throwing a prescription tor antidepressants at me. Had they done a little digging, they would have noticed that I showed traits of bi-polar disorder and known that antidepressants can make these feelings even more intense.

  • Oprah

    Why wasnt there a limit of word for the article? Goodness, i am very busy you know.

  • Cam

    @Scott Armstrong: said…

    In these facilities the doctors spent no more than 15 minutes talking to me before throwing a prescription tor antidepressants at me. Had they done a little digging, they would have noticed that I showed traits of bi-polar disorder and known that antidepressants can make these feelings even more intense.”

    Were you honest with them? You mentioned each time how badly you wanted to get out of those places. So did let them know that you had tried suicide before, since that would have brought down extra examiniation time I’m guessing the answer is no. did you inform them that you had a massive self destructive streak? It is their job to spot things, but if you’re in there with the express mission of convincing them that there is nothing wrong with you, I’m really not going to blame them for not noticing. You were struggling to hide any evidence of that fact.

  • Beau Colby

    Come on now,…IF you were REALLY seeking help (instead of attention) you would have disclosed ALL of your past attempts to the next Dr instead of just trying to get out to seek your next hurtful situation! It sounds to me (being a third party) that you WANTED attention at YOUR convenience everytime someone dissed you. Get help and quit feeling sorry for yourself and trying to “x’plain” your previous actions. I’m happy for you but, you need to be happy yourself…BC

  • Stace

    Bipolar disorder even among competent doctors is often difficult to diagnose.

  • Scott Armstrong

    @Cam: Cam, as a matter of fact, yes I did tell them each time about the previous suicide attempts. There was only one facility in which I felt I had to convince them that I was ok. One of the facilities told me that was being released that afternoon and I knew I was not ready to go. The doc told me he thought I was and sent me on my way.

  • GetBalance

    Hi Scott,

    Did u miss my question above or. . . . ?

  • Scott Armstrong

    @GetBalance: I am sorry, I did forget to reply to it, and I apologize for that.

    To be honest I don’t know, I do know that without my life experiences I would not be where I am or doing what I am doing today. I know that the failed relationships, suicide attempts, and even my HIV status have all had a part in shaping who I am. I have said it before, and I will say it again, in a weird f*@$ed up way becoming positive has been one of the best things that has to me in my life.

    I suspect I will catch alot of flack for that particular statement from some of the people on this site( see the above comments) but I will explain it.

    Becoming positve put things in perspective for me, it lit a fire in my that inspired me to try to help other people in situations similar to mine.

  • GetBalance

    @Scott. Right on man. This brings up the famous saying “Never judge another man until you’ve walked a day in his shoes”. Bravo for “arriving”!

  • Tommy

    Scott, I read every word, and saw so much of myself in your story, and not just because we are the same age LOL. I was diagnosed in November of ’05, have struggled with depression for many years, and am at a point in my life now where things are not perfect and I know they will never be…and that’s great! I’m undetectable, my depression is being controlled by medication and meditation and it helps that I have a great circle of friends and a mother who care about me, not to mention a great boyfriend. Never give up on life. It seems that you also have a loving circle of friends, and a loving supportive family. If things get bad again…and sometimes it does…just remember that there are people who love you…so love yourself too!

  • Cam

    @Scott Armstrong: said..

    @Cam: Cam, as a matter of fact, yes I did tell them each time about the previous suicide attempts. There was only one facility in which I felt I had to convince them that I was ok. One of the facilities told me that was being released that afternoon and I knew I was not ready to go.

    Hi Scott,

    Not to argue, but in your story you make a point of telling us how you tried to get out of every place, and now in your answer you are saying that in at least one you tried to convince them to let you stay. I’m confused.

Comments are closed.