a man holding a photograph of his younger self talking about his HIV diagnosis

Dear, Younger Self

Have you ever wished that your younger self knew what you know now? Have you ever wished you could go back and tell yourself to make a different choice?

Wishing for more education

There have been many times over the last few years when I paused and asked myself these two questions. Of course, I might wish at times that my younger self knew more about things like HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or how to be in a healthy relationship before my diagnosis.

I sometimes think if I would still be HIV-positive if I knew what I know now. I do feel that I would be in the same place if I knew what I know now. I believe this because I stick by all the decisions that I have made in my life.

I feel sometimes it is so easy to just say that things would be different and that I would make other choices if I could. I am honestly completely happy with my life and the choices that I have made to get me here.

Young HIV diagnosis

Getting diagnosed with HIV before I was twenty-one changed my life drastically but not in a negative way. It is hard to think about where I would be right now if I was not diagnosed with HIV. I am not saying that I would have a better life either way but what I am saying is I am happy and satisfied with the life I currently have.

I do wish I would have had a little bit more education on HIV before I was diagnosed. I probably would have been a little less scared when I found out. I would have had a better grasp of my diagnosis and would have been confident in myself to talk to people about it.

One thing that I would tell my younger self is to be more confident and believe in yourself and the journey that you are on. Go through life making choices that will further challenge you and create new opportunities for you.

For a very long time, I blamed myself for contracting HIV when it was not my fault. I trusted the person who I was in a monogamous relationship with, but monogamy was not something he practiced.

Not giving up on a healthy relationship

For a few years, I gave up on the thought of a relationship or even opening myself up to someone again because of the fear of being hurt or betrayed that badly. I would tell myself to not give up on love and opening my heart up to someone again can only get better.

I do wish I knew this a few years ago because it probably would have stopped me from wasting a lot more time with men who did not deserve my love, affection, and time.

It took some time, but I am happy to say that I slowly learned to love again and am extremely happy with my new partner. A partner that supports me, loves me, and isn’t afraid to talk about HIV and my past.

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