A man holding a hammer is seen looking into a hole broken into the wall, behind the wall various friends and family members are looking back at him supportively. Male, dry wall, support

Talking With Family

I want to share with you all an experience that I had around World AIDS Day. Last year, in honor of World AIDS Day, I was invited to attend a panel discussion on living with HIV.

I was grateful to have had my mother by my side during an event that I attended. Just like the previous year, I asked my mother to attend this one with me again.

A week or so before the event, my mother called me and let me know that she had told my aunt and uncle about the event and they would also like to attend with me. When I heard this news, I was very excited but also very nervous.

Nervous is normal

The reason I was nervous about my aunt and uncle attending the event is that I have not shared that part of my life with them yet.

What I am trying to say is that all my family knows and respects the fact that I am HIV-positive, but I have not had a conversation about my diagnosis with them.

I have only ever talked to my mother and 2 sisters about how I contracted HIV and what I felt during that time of my life.

After this panel discussion, my aunt and uncle would probably have questions about my life and how I handled my diagnosis. All these thoughts went through my mind and made me feel nervous.

I tell my story to people all the time, especially in the work field that I am in, but it is different with family.

I did not want my family to think that there was a time when I felt like I couldn’t come to them for anything. I wanted them to know that I had to navigate my diagnosis on my own time.

Fears of the unknowns

The panel discussion was amazing and very beneficial to my family and me.

It was great being able to hear from other individuals who are living and thriving with HIV. It was also great to hear from people who have been living with HIV for over 20 years and how they incorporate HIV prevention within their communities. It was great to see my family very engaged in the conversations that were taking place during the panel discussion.

There was one thing that a panelist said that really hit home for me. They expressed to the room that the reason they waited on telling their friends and family about their diagnosis was that they knew little about the virus and how it would affect their life. This stood out to me because I felt the same way when I was first diagnosed.

Bringing down the walls

Overall, the experience with my family was very good. I was able to open up to my family even more than I already had.

I am fortunate to have such a great support system, and all my family wanted was to make sure that I was taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I hope that each year I am able to celebrate World AIDS Day with them.

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