As many of you know, I have been HIV positive since May 2007. These last six years have been insane to say the least. They have been a period of introspection, challenges, education and growth.
One of the most common questions I am asked is about my HIV medication cocktail. Many of my friends, associates and acquaintances are HIV positive or have full-blown AIDS and ask me about my experience.
"I came to say my goodbye." The words struck like a sledgehammer right to the gut. Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Old friends and newcomers were taken aback in an almost audible gasp. Those were the words of Mike ___________ as he checked in with our group of men that attend "LIFE Experience".
Tears streamed down my face as I sat in one of the leading HIV research clinics in the U.S., Ward 86 at San Francisco's General Hospital. I was almost in a state of panic because I feared that I had acquired a nice touch of "walking pneumonia." It was a fearful experience exacerbated by the fact that for the first time ever, I was instructed to wear a face mask for safety. That one act alone made me feel embarrassed, unworthy, isolated. That some part of me was severely broken. I knew that it was a precaution but it only served to feed one of my darkest fears: that I had acquired an HIV-related disease.
Disclosure ... It is the question that haunts all people battling HIV. Who to disclose to. What to disclose. When to disclose and so on. There is no right or wrong answer as to whether or not a person discloses their HIV status to other people (EXCEPT a sexual partner where disclosure, in my opinion, is not only morally right but legally required). The best answer, in my opinion then is, disclosure comes when and if the individual is comfortable sharing this information.