There’s no doubt that being diagnosed with an incurable disease is devastating. But getting a misdiagnosis and living in mental and emotional turmoil for over a decade because of it might be worse. According to one Black man sharing his story on social media, that’s precisely what happened to him – and it led to suicidal thoughts.
A TikTok user who goes by the name Corlicia Melton, under the handle @carlyy3realll, posted a series of videos of a man she identified as her Uncle Eddie. In the videos, Uncle Eddie said his full name is Eddie Hines Jr. and proceeded to detail how he says a doctor misdiagnosed him with HIV in 2012 and caused him to go into a downward spiral.
“This my story,” Hines began in the first video that was uploaded to TikTok on Feb. 27. “I was diagnosed in 2012 with HIV, never to have been seen or gave me no medicine or nothing, but told me I got HIV one day … and left it in my record for over 10 years until it was time to get life insurance and whatever.
“Doctors tested me again and then I took five more different tests [and it showed] that I never, ever had it,” Hines continued. “They had me thinking it the whole time and I had contemplated suicide. You know you finna die, so I was living my life like I was getting ready to die.”
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Hines said he began living recklessly, getting high and “doing crazy stuff.” He added he was taking many different mental health medications and even sought out a woman who’d been diagnosed with HIV to have sex with so he wouldn’t “hurt” any women who didn’t have it by passing it on to them.
“My crazy a*s was out here looking for a woman that had HIV so I could sleep with her,” Hines said. “Luckily, I had on a rubber because if I wouldn’t have had on no rubber, I would have caught it.”
Due to the mental distress caused by the misdiagnosis, Hines said he began seeking treatment at AltaPointe Health, which provides mental health services in Mobile, Alabama, where Hines lives.
“Then, after all that trauma to my life, I had to end up going to AltaPointe. I got a psychiatrist now, all because of that case, and they trying to make me get that stuff out of my head,” Hines continued. He said he’d never had mental health issues before his misdiagnosis.
Despite knowing he was incorrectly diagnosed, Hines said he still has nightmares about “dying all the time” and is haunted by an “HIV Lady” in his dreams. He said he still has to take many different medicines to treat his mental illnesses. To make matters even more insidious, Hines said the doctor who misdiagnosed him refused to apologize and had to be forced to change the incorrect diagnosis from a decade ago.
“The head of all doctors had to make the doctor change the diagnosis because he told me it would be too hard to change,” Hines said in the video. “After he made him change it, he act like he don’t even owe me an apology for making me sick like that over the years.”
In the first and subsequent videos, Hines said he’s been trying to take the matter to court over his anguish caused by the misdiagnosis. He flashed paperwork in his videos, saying they are proof of his claim. However, he said no one would take his case and he’s trying to pursue it on his own but doesn’t have much money.
“[This is] a true story. They did me wrong, but now they’re trying to cover up for it,” Hines said. “It’s still a case and I’m still a human being and they act like I’m a dog. So. I’m just out here by myself. … Everybody keep telling me I got a case but ain’t nobody taking it for me. I guess because of my lack of funds … Everybody act like they together against me.”
Hines says doctors, judges and attorneys have told him his situation is the first of its kind they’ve encountered. However, a study by Johns Hopkins shows inaccurate medical diagnoses is the No. 1 cause of serious medical errors that lead to serious or permanent damage or death.
When it comes to Black people, the situation is exacerbated. A capstone project from a senior at Yale University cited a study that revealed false beliefs among medical students about the biological differences between Black and white patients correlated with inaccurate diagnoses and treatment.
“For example, nearly half of the 222 medical students who participated in a 2016 study were shown to harbor false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites (e.g. “black people’s skin is thicker than white people’s skin; black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s nerve endings”),” Sidney Saint-Hilaire wrote on page 7 of a scholarly paper titled “Misdiagnosis: Race-Conscious Approaches to Medical Education.”
“The same study reported that the strength of these beliefs are positively correlated with inaccurate diagnoses and treatment. Evidenced here are the ways in which interpersonal biases worsen, rather than mitigate, disparities in health amongst races that exist due to systemic forces,” the paper continued.
Many TikTok users echoed their belief that Hines had a case for the misdiagnosis of HIV and offered him words of encouragement and support.
TikTok user indirabarksdale82 commented, “sue for emotional distress and everything else he deserves🗣TAKE EM TO DA CLEANERS UNK! praying for you.”
“If you were white they would magically figure out how to handle the case. Keep looking for an attorney,” Another user chimed in. “I do not believe he was the only one,” another user said.
Melton is pleading with people to help get her Uncle’s story out and has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for legal fees. The goal is $25,000.