When you think of HIV what comes to mind? Do you think of Magic Johnson and seeing him throughout the years living with the disease? Do you think of stories of men being on the “down-low” giving the illness to unsuspecting wives and girlfriends? Do you think of someone you know dealing with the effects of the disease or watching them die from full blown AIDS? I recently went to take my own HIV/AIDS test and the only thing that crossed my mind was “what if I’m positive?”
The 20 minutes I waited for my test results were filled with so many questions and emotions. I consider myself safe. In fact I haven’t been sexually active in a year by my own choice. For me sex isn’t as simple as the physical act. Yet I still wondered about times in my past. What about times I got lost in the moment like many of us, or times I knew better but didn’t do better? What if my moment of careless behavior would have made me one of the growing number of African-American women who are infected with the disease every day? Would the people who claimed to love me turn their backs on me?
We want to believe that everyone is educated about HIV and AIDS but many don’t understand the disease let alone how to deal with someone who is positive. How would I handle my self in the dating world? Would I ever have someone make love to me again or kiss me? If I was positive would I disclose my status to any man before I become intimate?
I imagine I would be scared that someone would become verbally and/or physically abusive due to ignorance about the illness. A life of being HIV positive can be a life of joy but its also a life of discrimination, assumptions, and at times isolation. If I was positive I would do all thats necessary to keep my health in check. I would probably cry at first, but I would continue to work towards the life i want. I’m sure I would be as lively and active as possible to manage the disease. I may lose some people in my life but I would not lose the most important person I have and thats me.
Being HIV positive isn’t the end for me and being negative doesn’t give me a license to be irresponsible. Life goes on if you are HIV positive. A negative test means that those times I was careless were a lesson I will never repeat… that is for sure. Right now, I’m HIV negative and I’ll make sure it stays that way.
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