Positive Thinking

A Ringoes journalist reveals her deepest secret.

For four years, as an anonymous columnist at Poz, a news and lifestyle magazine for people with HIV and AIDS, Regan Hofmann chronicled the reactions of her family members and friends, as, one by one, she disclosed to them that she has been HIV-positive since 1996. Through her writing, the 38-year-old Ringoes resident says, she sought to “explore the fears” that HIV-positive patients feel about revealing their condition. She continued to hide her identity from the magazine’s readers, the better to safeguard her status from the uninformed in her own circle. “I didn’t want to be viewed as a person who wasn’t well,” Hofmann says.

In March she finally outted herself, medically speaking, and in a big way, when, as Poz’s newly appointed editor in chief, she appeared on the cover of the Manhattan-based monthly with a headline that declared I HAVE HIV. Inside the issue, Hofmann, who describes herself as “very healthy,” tells readers that “the burden of the secret has always been the hardest part of the disease for me.”

The former editor in chief of Lambertville-based New Jersey Life says that her new job feeds her desire to call attention to the rising number of HIV cases and the growing number of heterosexual women, like her, who are getting the virus. Women initially made up a small percentage of HIV diagnoses in the United States, but today they account for one-third of all cases in the nation and nearly half globally. HIV, Hofmann notes, has become a manageable disease whose patients can live long, healthy lives—but only if they get the right medical care early on, as she did. Hofmann hopes that Poz, which has 150,000 subscribers, will help erase stigmas and prompt those at risk to get tested and treated.

“I was never ashamed of having HIV. I just didn’t want it to be the focus of my life,” Hofmann says. “But as I saw the positive effect that I had on people when I shared that I had the disease and saw how they reacted when they had the right information about it, I wanted to do that on a broader scale.”

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