Stories Of Promise - Honesty Is My Friend
There is a stigma about not asking if you're HIV+ or asking when you got tested. That's the twisted thinking that I had. Because my ex-partner didn't ask me about my HIV status, so I assumed that he was negative, and I guess he assumed that I was negative also. I was diagnosed with HIV after learning my then partner was HIV+. I went in and got tested and low and behold, I was HIV+. At the time, I felt that I fell into a black hole with nobody around; and then like the whole world just stopped around me and it was just totally black.
I started on drugs because I didn't love myself and I felt like my life was over after my diagnosis and I was pretty much vengeful. I didn't care about myself, so I didn't care what other people had to say. That was because I felt like the whole world was against me because of my sexuality. The stigma was strong because of my family upbringing.
My family found out about my HIV status, because my sister had gone through my stuff and then she saw my AIDS Healthcare Foundation medical records. I was basically coming off the drug at the time, so I went off the deep end, stormed out of the house, and then didn't speak about it to them or whatever. Then when I came back, they still didn't talk about it with me. The most hurtful part of the situation was when my niece told my baby niece not to go in my room because of my HIV, because uncle is sick. That hurt me the most. Right now, I'm really trying to educate them on my sexuality because they still think it's a sin. I'm steadily trying to educate them on my HIV status, too, but I haven't gotten to that point yet.
There was a time after my HIV diagnosis, if my partner didn’t ask about my HIV status, I would automatically assume they were HIV+. I'm grateful to be getting treatment, because they are helping me be more comfortable with who Ricky is as a person. My sexuality doesn't define me. My HIV doesn't define me. I define my own self.
I’m learning to be more comfortable to say, “Hey, I love me. I want to protect me. You may say that you're one type of way or whatever, but at the end of the day, I have to protect who I am and my life.” There are people that I will have to have a conversation with about my status to have a relationship with them. I’ll ask them, “What do you know about being HIV+? What do you know about HIV in general?” And then after the conversation, I tell them, “Hey, I'm HIV+.” Your life is worth it, and you are worth it. Don't ever let nobody take any type of power away from you. If you control your life, you are the author of your life. You have a say in what goes on in the bedroom. I would say, love yourself and your body, because your body is really important and only you can love yourself.