Not The End of My Journey But Merely The Beginning
Exactly one week before my twenty-first birthday I got dealt a card that wasn’t just going to turn me into another statistic. I did not sulk and I did not stay stagnant. HIV impacted my life over six and a half years ago and I chose to run with it. I chose to change the journey that I was on and stay confident in myself and what I was able to offer the world.
My HIV diagnosis
Like many people, I thought that HIV could not affect me until I sat in that clinic room and had to hear the counselor disclose my reactive status. As I sat there with nothing yet everything running through my mind, the only thing I could process was disappointment. Disappointment not in myself but in my partner. I was in a monogamous relationship for over two and a half years at the time and I could not believe that the person I was in love with could betray me in this way. I addressed him and of course, he denied it but only I knew the truth.
Working in the community
But this isn’t about him. It never was about him and neither is my journey. I started volunteering at a local community center that offered free HIV testing. Within six months of volunteering a position opened up and I got hired. At this facility, they help me get certified to be an HIV Tester & Counselor with LA County. They pushed me to go back to school and pursue a degree in Public Health. I finally knew the path I wanted to be on and that was within HIV Prevention.
My HIV status did not affect me in a negative way but of course in a positive one. I have been given a platform and opportunity to tell my story, a story that many people can relate to but are too afraid to talk about. I have not for a single day lived my life in fear of what someone thought about my status. I have been on a few HIV positive magazines openly disclosing my status to my community only to show the people that look, live, and love like me that it is okay to be open, honest, and vulnerable. Fast forward six and a half years after my diagnosis and I currently have a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and work at the Los Angeles LGBT Center implementing HIV testing and Sexual Health Programs.
This is not the end of my journey, but merely the beginning.
Interested in sharing your own diagnosis story, treatment experience, or another aspect of living with HIV?
Do you live in the Southern US?