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My Letter to HIV: A Letter From Betsy Yung

April 3, 2012

Betsy Yung

Betsy Yung

Dear HIV,

I hate that you have invaded my body. You are a dirty, evil little hitchhiker who infected me against all odds. You lived in me for ten years or more, replicating and feasting on my T-helper cells until I had only 27 left. Finally, two years ago, I spent eight days in a coma, blissfully unaware that you were altering my very DNA to suit your selfish purposes. You are the definition of evil. I will always call you a fucker. I will never find anything to thank you for and I pray that medicine finds a way to eradicate you once and for all.

Something sinister about your travels these past 30 years is the masterful way you insinuated yourself into the human race by selecting a demographic of people who frequently matter little to the powerful members of our species. You first attacked homosexual men and now women, black people and the very poor. You selected those who would draw criticism just for being infected and thereby created the disgusting stigma which keeps people afraid to know their status or to seek treatment. And because you were initially killing only members of the homosexual community, you are hopelessly entangled with gay rights issues and associated in the minds of the homophobic with a class of people that many fear and revile.


What I hate the most about you is how your stigma has caused people like me to stay uninformed and ignorant of the facts. Now I know that even in a committed relationship, a heterosexual woman is never safe.

In my life, your presence has cost me my dearest friend and has caused me to feel unworthy of the loving partnership with another person I have wanted for so long. I curse you each morning and each evening when I swallow so many pills, knowing I must do so for the rest of my life just to keep you from killing me. All you have done for me is give proof that life is cruel and unfair.

I will not be your bitch and give you my life. I will not lie down and die because those who still love me count on me to be here. I could never hurt them by giving up.

So I continue my life as I always have but my future has changed because of you. The rewards for having lived a good life are no longer a promise for me. I do not blame any person for my misfortune because you are my enemy. I did nothing to deserve you and I will never accept you. I will do everything I can do to prevent you from infecting others and will take every measure offered to me to try to rid my body of every trace of you before I die.

I hope somehow that my words can help end the stigma that HIV positive people face. I hope that someday people will embrace us and support us as they do others who are unlucky enough to get Cancer or Parkinson’s or ALS. HIV, you are only a virus. You will be eradicated one day like many that have come before you. You have robbed the world of too many beautiful and talented loving people. I only hope that on some level you can experience pain and that when we find a way to kill you, you will die in agony as your many victims have.

Hating you always and forever, your unwilling host,
Betsy Yung (Blog:

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