When I found out I was HIV Positive, all I could think about was how different my life would become and how people’s perception of me would change.
At the time, I was getting over a break up and trying to stand on my own two feet. Like most people trying to get over someone, I was questioning everything about myself and every aspect of my life. My self-confidence was already questionable so hearing that I’d tested positive couldn’t come at a worse time.
After getting over the initial shock from the diagnosis, I became very aware that I was still a single man approaching 30. The only way I could describe the feeling was damaged.
I was damaged goods and nobody would want to be with me now.
Perhaps, this was because of my previous ignorance to HIV combined with my low self esteem, but I couldn’t see a way out and certainly couldn’t see a future with someone.
I just assumed that nobody would understand and that even if I did meet someone, it wouldn’t be fair to burden them with the responsibility and reputation of being with a HIV+ partner.
Seven months on, along with a lot of therapy, I can see that, whilst maybe a rational thought at the time, these thoughts are simply unnecessary.
By speaking openly and honestly about my HIV status, with you, friends and potential partners, it removes the possibility of it becoming a taboo subject and gives ME the ownership. I’m sure, as with anything, that people will still judge and talk behind my back, but at the end of the day… who cares?
A great friend of mine gave me some valuable advice:
“In life, you have two options: If you don’t like something, you can change it or accept it.”
I can’t change it so I’m forced to accept it; and in doing so I have learnt to accept a lot more about myself that I did before.
It is not my responsibly if other people can’t accept me as I am; be that my sexuality, gender, political views or HIV status. As long as I am honest and open, then the responsibility falls to the other person… and if they can’t accept you that is their issue to deal with and not yours.
In my experience, albeit limited at the moment, I have heard nothing but support from friends, family and people I don’t know from all over the world. The perception that no-one will give you the time of day, and that people won’t find you attractive anymore is false. There are going to be people out there that may not be as accepting as I would hope, but it will be down to us to spread the word, open a dialogue and ultimately get rid of the stigma that surrounds HIV.
Yes, I have taken a bit of a knock, but I have learned a lot more about myself and feel a lot stronger for it.
As always, share this blog!
You’d be amazed at how many unassuming people it will help.
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