In your article, When Should You Reveal Your HIV Positive Status? you say, "Always remember, your HIV status doesn't define who you are...The right person for you will stick by your side no matter what!"
The latter point is right, of course, but I take exception with the first point.
I'm gay. I have HIV. I found out that revealing your status will almost always result in being rejected. Yet, one has no choice. To do anything less, if getting intimate, would be a horrible thing.
My current partner has AIDS. Has had it for 21 years. He's a wonderful man. Living with him, him living, is a challenge. He suffers pain and mood swings, and more, so much more.
At this point in my life, I think most are way too insecure to cope with being a serodiscordant couple.
Another point, I've watched those baskets with free condoms in them, for hours on end, in both Atlanta, GA, and in Myrtle Beach, SC, and I've not seen one single hand dip into it before leaving.
I can't prove it, but I believe that way too many (granted, any is too many) are not practicing safe sex, deluding themselves into believing that people who "look healthy" cannot have it, or that asking a prospective trick is enough of a "protection" when they hear him say he's negative- which is ludicrous, of course. After all, the man could be lying, and if he's all too ready to jump into bed then, without a condom, one can bet that it's not his first time, and that means that he's always at risk, given the incubation period before one seroconverts. Maybe he is tested "regularly," maybe it did come back negative, LAST time. But that doesn't mean it will next time.
I suspect, no disrespect intended, that you're HIV negative, given your comment "Always remember, your HIV status doesn't define who you are."
When I was diagnosed, everything said "HIV" to me. A cut shaving myself. A fingerstick to check my blood sugar (diabetes). A cut from something I dropped that broke in the kitchen.
Each time, it wasn't just a cut.
Each time, it wasn't just blood.
It was "HIV" staring me, in the face.
Knowing that it was "there," lurking in my blood.
Somebody said, years ago, that "one day" I'd stop thinking about it, just take my pills, and go on, daily, without it being on my mind EVER day.
I'm still waiting.
Not a day passes, that something doesn't trigger a "reminder" for me.
Yes, being seropositive is not all there is to me.
Just like being gay isn't.
My personality has other facets, as well.
But still, it does define me. I am not the person I was before. I am someone else. It changed me, the diagnoses, the virus, the disease.
Some of the changes were for the better: A greater awareness of my mortality, resulting in a greater appreciation for now, for all of my blessing, being willing to stop and smell the roses, being able to be less self-centered, less selfish.
Some of the changes were for the worse: A fear of dying alone, wondering who will be there (if anyone) to hold my hand when my time comes, fearing not death but the all too common slow agonizing death that comes with AIDS. Wondering if I do live to retirement (I'm 48) how I'll cope then, since I won't have insurance and be able to afford medications, will the financial devastation that it might bring to me make me homeless in my old retired age.
I could go on and on, but I shan't.
Dear Love Lost:
You may be thinking how can a negative guy possibly understand what it's like to live with HIV. To a certain extent, you're right. I don't know what it's like to be on the horrible med regime necessary or to be shunned for my status, but I do know from my heart that the right guy will stick by your side. And I'm not the only one. I know plenty of guys that are either in serodiscordant relationships or open to one.
I don't have to tell you that it's difficult being gay. It's even harder being gay and living with HIV. I've found that when times get hard and everyone around me seems to fit the stereotype we try so hard to dispel, I hold on to the one thing that will always be there- hope and love. And if that love doesn't surround me from the outside, I turn inside until I'm exhausted loving myself with my every breath. It may sound like a fantasy, but with a little practice it can become anyone's reality.
Unfortunately, you don't have a choice about your status, but you do have a choice when it comes to your perception of what you see in the mirror. Even if the old you seems long gone, try and make love your self and reality.