A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with HIV. As the year progressed I started disclosing my status to my friends, family, and of course my sexual partners. There was always the initial shock from everyone when I would disclose my HIV status. They would gasp, clutch their pearls, and scratch their heads, because for some reason they could not wrap their head around the fact that I was HIV positive.
My sex life did not change. The only thing that was different was that I would disclose my status to my sexual partners. I put my status on my Jack’d account and made sure people read my profile and just to be safe I would bring up the subject before things got to an intimate setting. To this day, I still have yet to have someone tell me that there was a lack of interest based on my status. In fact, most guys seem okay with the fact that I am positive. I am happy to experience this, but it definitely is never the reaction I expect. One thing I started to hear a lot was “Well it’s okay you don’t even look positive,”….ummmmm excuse me?
I’m not sure what people expected to see. Maybe they thought I would look “sick” or tired or beat up and miserable from finding out my status. Instead of being offended by what they said, I wanted to know why they did not think I looked positive. I would ask them: what does “sick” look like? If I take care of myself, why should I look tired or beat up? What does HIV look like? Have you EVER been able to tell by looking at someone? No one had answers for me but it was clear that to them I, “Just don’t LOOK HIV positive.”
HIV is a virus. It is INSIDE you. It is not something you can see. You cannot tell who has HIV just by looking at them. Having HIV does not make you “sick”. The ONLY way you can know your status and your partner’s status is to BE TESTED. That’s it. You can’t see, smell, or feel it.
- I am a 22
- I am HIV positive
- I am African American
- I am Latino
- I am a man who has sex with other men
- I am part of the demographic that is most affected by HIV
- We are the ones with the most newly diagnosed cases
- We are the ones that seem to be shocking the nation with the outstanding numbers of just how many of us are acquiring this virus.
Therefore, the notion that I do not “look” HIV positive is FALSE. Currently, I am what HIV looks like.