Life Isn't Over
My partner at that time was giving blood and I always had given blood before. I was in good health and good spirits. I thought nothing of it. That’s when I found out I had HIV. It was shocking. After my diagnosis, I fell into a dark place. I had contracted HIV through careless unprotected sex with someone I trusted. There was partying involved for sure. I will say when taking drugs your mind is not focused on precautions.
I let myself know that life isn't over. I realize this happens to many people. During that time of darkness, I still started treatment right away. I know the positive outcome treatment can have. With my health conditions and age, I didn't want to anything to happen. One month after my diagnosis, I was undetectable. I know I have this virus, but I know I cannot pass it on to anyone else if I stay in care.
I'm in great health today by using condoms, and doing a little abstinence every now and then, and engaging in self-pleasure. That's always safe. The partners that I had after my diagnosis were HIV positive as well. It's easy to talk about it to someone who's already HIV positive. We discuss medication and follow up on doctors’ appointments. I ask questions like are you taking your antiretroviral meds? Or are you on a regular regimen?
What motivates me is that I could help people by sharing my story. Also, knowing the fact that I can encourage people to get into care and not be afraid. One thing I can say is that in the black community, we are terrified of what people are going to say and think. I'm at a point where I don't care because this is my life to live. For me, it's not the fear of dying, it's the fear of not leaving my mark. It’s knowing that I helped somebody else along the way. That made me want to make the change.
I want people to know that there's always hope at the end of the tunnel. You may see darkness, but there will be light. Please stay focused, stay in care because with medications, you can live a long prosperous life. The stigma that existed over 30 years ago is still here today. By taking your medication, and taking care of yourself, you can help eliminate that stigma. Look at me, I found out I was HIV positive, within 30 days, I became undetectable. I've been in great health ever since. There was a time that I went without my medicine for a while, and I was out of care. I picked it right back up and became undetectable. There's hope this time.