This post is for World AIDS Day 2013. It is in honor of those who call me, or make appointments with me to finally disclose your status, for those who read my blog posts on TheBody.com, and reach out to me. It is a post for all who are contemplating coming out from wherever you are. You are loved and supported!
I am well known to walk around my community on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia in my HIV shirt. I have worn my shirt at a conference in Orlando (pretty much insulated with church folk). I wear my HIV shirt in supermarkets.
I can't begin to tell you how LIBERATING and FREEING that was! I began smoking at age 15...and have smoked for 43 years. I did have one successful year in seminary when I stopped smoking, but picked up again, after a relationship went sour. Contrary to what folks may believe, I don't know that most smokers actually LOVE it. It's an addiction. Nicotine is harder to kick than alcohol and most drugs!
This is in response to a few articles that seem to be making the rounds about certain "pastors/faith leaders" telling folks to stop taking their medication. And that "God" will heal them.
About two weeks ago, I spent the whole day with someone at the VA (Veterans Administration) Hospital. He confided to me that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and needed support for his first visit. The visit was at least 3 hours long. They very slowly and thoroughly explained his prognosis, and his treatment plan. It was so informative ... by the end of the visit, I was on information overload! I can't imagine how he or anyone else can process all that information at once.
Grief is funny ... you go through the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Supposedly in that order.
I grieved the death of my husband for years, went through all the stages, but am finding that even after the stage of acceptance, one can revisit the stages all over again!
When I am at a gathering of any sort, I usually wear my HIV shirt -- which proclaims "HIV POSITIVE"; especially at religious gatherings. I can only imagine what goes through some folks minds.
It very well may be 'manageable' (if that's how YOU want to look at it) ...
It is a day that is forever ingrained in your memory, and if you were high or drunk when you received your diagnosis ... you sobered up real quick! Now this is not to say that most folks who are HIV + fall into that category. But if you were caught up in that lifestyle, receiving an HIV diagnosis was not something that you didn't remember the next day. Receiving that diagnosis was enough to blow anybody's mind.