I Wanted More For Myself
At the time I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I had gotten really sick. I didn't know what was wrong, I just knew I didn't feel right. It was unlike anything I've ever felt before. I went and had a rapid HIV test done at the health department. About a week later, I was getting a call on my cell phone, and it was from the health department. They told me I had to go see a doctor and get retested because they said the test was inconclusive.
When I went into a local health center, I was told I had HIV. At that point in my life, I had been doing drugs and things like that. I knew in my mind that it wasn't a matter of if, it was when I was going to find out. My sexual practices were male-on-male, unprotected sex, some prostitution involved, and things like that. I had been all over the country. I had a good 5-6 years of being homeless and basically living off Grindr, which is a terrible thing.
When I found out, I was almost relieved because I didn’t have to worry about it anymore and it was off my chest. I met someone that took me under his wing, and he was negative. I ended up coming to Florida because I was escorting. I came down here in March of 2002, and I never left. I love the weather, and it just felt like home here. I didn’t have any family here, but I had gotten a roommate and things were going well. Then, I ended up getting kicked out. I was using opiates and meth at the same time, and he refused to see it anymore. It got to the point where a friend was on his knees crying like: “You need to get help. You can’t do this anymore.”
There were periods of not taking my medication. I was good for like 3 years while living in D.C., and when I lived in New Jersey there was a good chunk of maybe almost a year where I wasn’t taking medicine because I didn’t know where to go. The closest place I could go was about a half hour away from where I was. The use of drugs prevented me from adhering to my medication. I was in a very toxic relationship too. I was using crystal meth for almost 10 years. My health went up and down and up and down.
I went to detox and ended up being there for 20 days. I went in thinking that I was only there for opiates. I saw my blood pressure was really high. I was on three different blood pressure medicines. I thought to myself, “I can't keep doing this my body.” I started to feel good, and every day it was better. I just got to the point in my life where I knew that I wanted more for myself. I'm 32, and there are things I've always wanted to do. I should be in jail right now. When I went to treatment, I didn't think that I needed to be sober. Now I have a new family, and I'm grateful for everything. I take my medication daily. I’ve never been this happy.