August 27, 2012
We received this a few months ago from a Positive Voice reader, and with National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day coming, we thought this was a good time to share it with you. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the rodeo, and leave your stereotypes at home!
I grew up on a dairy farm and was a professional bull rider for years and I discovered my sexuality as a gay cowboy.
In January 1989 my partner got sick and was diagnosed with Aids and so I was tested and tested positive for HIV in February 1989. Years later my partner passed away, which devastated me.
I chose to bury myself in education and learn as much as possible about HIV. I felt like I needed to become an expert to survive.
I got involved as an HIV Advocate so I could help others through the process. As a long-term survivor of AIDS I feel it is my duty to help the newly diagnosed people, but at the same time remind them of the early years of Aids and how many people died before they were diagnosed and the knowledge we gained from those people.
In 1998 I was diagnosed with cancer and really had to face the fact that I might not survive. Somehow after a long battle I came out of it alive and grateful for having another chance. I have seized this chance and now try to live every day as if it is my last. I have made it my life's work to tell my survivors tale.
People ask me about the pain of losing all the people I have and the suffering I went through or all the pills that become part of your life. I choose not to dwell on that, but rather focus on living day to day with a positive attitude and do my best to help others.
You have to make friends with HIV and learn to laugh at it.
I am Larry.
I am HIV-positive.
I am a Survivor.