a person types a very long letter with a broken heart and a sad face on it

Dear HIV

We were first introduced through our social network in 1989. I did not have enough information about you, nor was I consciously connecting to my sexual behavior with my sexual identity. You traveled with your friend syphilis looking for any opening to attack and you both crashed the party. Your friend syphilis became noticeable while you went about your work without detection.

Starting a new chapter in my life

I found you hiding in 1991 when I went to get tested because I wanted to ask my girlfriend to marry me. I wanted to be responsible because I had unprotected sex with both men and women during the 1980s. You knew that I didn't believe that I was at risk because the men that I had sex with also had girlfriends.

You still had a hold on me

That combination continued well after I shared with the woman I wanted to marry. She said yes and we married and had a healthy son. My wife did not become infected nor did my son and I bet you were disappointed. That was a great victory for me; however, you still had your hold on me. That combination I mentioned earlier kept me from sharing my status with my MaDear, sisters or even my best friend. Over the next five years, I slipped further and further down a rabbit hole of darkness. My depression was severe internally as I wore a mask and poured all I had into raising my son and accomplished many things in my chosen profession.

In 1995, I am sure you thought you had me when I made up my mind to take a new position in New Jersey leaving my children's librarian post with the District of Columbia Public Library. My thought was that I would take my wife home to her native state and to her family so that I could die. That is a far as those thoughts went as my GOD had something else planned for me.

Sharing my personal story of living with HIV

Shortly after starting my new job, finding a place for my family to live, and a school for my son, I joined my first support group. The chains of isolation began to loosen, and it was not long before I shared my status with my MaDear. We shared the news with my sisters and my MaDear shared it with women in her life that would pray and support us both. The support group provided a way out of that deadly combination and up the rabbit hole I emerged. Beginning to attend national conferences, reading, and researching to fill myself with the information I would need to live.

I found a way to defeat you

When I finally decided to begin taking medication, I began with 21 pills a day. It was not easy to perform as a professional librarian, primary caregiver to my son, committee work on community planning, and national library committees. You see, HIV, when the will to live became stronger than the will to let go, I saw a way to defeat you.

There have been many continuous struggles that I had to face and overcome. After I told on you, I didn't have to face those struggles alone. I recognized that you thrive, live, and have power in fear and isolation. Once that was broken, I have been able to live and now take only one medication to fight your presence in my body.

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