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Of Lessons Learned: My Day(s) With HIV

By Richard Cordova

September 20, 2012

How do you feel about being HIV positive? Do you feel good? Bad? Scared? Maybe you don't care ... for me, HIV is there. It's something I think about a lot, but I'm not scared of it. Not like I used to be. I used to be afraid of dying. I used to be afraid of people finding out I was positive. I used to be afraid I would pass it to someone else.

Since being diagnosed in 2002, I've learned some things (in no particular order):

  • I've learned that accepting my own mortality has nothing to do with waiting around to die.
  • I've learned that accepting my own mortality has nothing to do with my HIV.
  • I've learned that if I don't stay healthy, I'm more likely to die of a stroke, then from HIV.
  • I've learned that people will reject you.
  • I've learned that people will reject you for being short, overweight, skinny, white, black, and yes, HIV positive.
  • I've learned that it hurts just as much when you are rejected for being short and overweight as when it's for being HIV positive.
  • I've learned that if you use condoms, you can stop the spread of HIV.
  • I've learned that even though it's scary, telling people you're HIV positive can be a very freeing experience.
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  • I've learned that the more people I told, the more powerful I felt.
  • I've learned that the more powerful I felt, I realized that other HIV-positive people around me felt powerless.
  • I've learned that with great power comes great responsibility.
  • I've learned that I need to help other HIV-positive people free themselves from the shame and stigma of being HIV positive.
  • I've learned that we are stronger together than we are apart.
  • I've learned that sometimes it just takes one step at a time.
  • I've learned that change can be scary.
  • I've learned that change can be wonderful.
  • I've learned that if you are willing to fight for what you want, you can have it.
  • I've learned that sometimes just because you fight for it doesn't mean you'll get it.
  • I've learned that being so open about my status can be very tiring.
  • I've learned that being so open about my status can be a lonely road.
  • I've learned that being so open about my status can be very rewarding.
  • I've learned that asking people to do things that make them uncomfortable can produce wonderful results.
  • I've learned that if you don't ask you don't get.
  • I've learned that HIV has made me the person I am today.
  • I've learned that I am extremely grateful for that.
  • I've learned that my biggest goal is to leave my mark on this world.
  • I've learned that each day is a new opportunity to leave that mark.
  • I've learned that I am going to make mistakes.
  • I've learned that making mistakes is OK.
  • I've learned that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission.
  • I've learned that sometimes doing before asking has consequences.
  • I've learned that the learning never stops. I'm happy for that.

This blog entry came from a desire to share with you an event that is coming up. On September 21 we will celebrate A Day With HIV. The premise is simple: Whether HIV negative or positive, we are all affected by HIV. In an effort to raise awareness and to help erase the shame and stigma of living with HIV, you grab your camera or smartphone and snap a photo of you in your everyday life. You submit that photo to photo@adaywithhiv.com. Last year, my photo was of me on the way to work because, well, that's what I was doing on that day. Just a regular guy, headed to work. I'm asking you to participate in this with me because WE CANNOT BE FEARFUL! We must celebrate our status. Yes, celebrate! I will not be ashamed of being HIV positive. HIV is a part of who I am, but it is not who I am. For more information, visit the site at www.adaywithhiv.com. Join me on September 21. Together, we can help others feel more comfortable with being HIV positive. Together, we can make a difference.

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Be well and live with intention,
Richard

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Men With HIV
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Richard Cordova (Chicago, IL) Wed., Oct. 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm EDT
Thank you all for your comments. Life is a journey and HIV puts some definite curves in the road. Lets remember to have compassion for others, and most importantly, for ourselves.

Richard
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Comment by: Robert (South Bay, California) Sun., Sep. 23, 2012 at 10:45 pm EDT
This is So great, My friend is HIV & i thought i might email this to him, because he is the best Ever, Amazing.....
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Comment by: Andile (Cape Town) Sun., Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm EDT
Wow What a great post this is. you made me feel better about my self and made me forget i was positive there for a moment, yes i admit i'm scared of the Virus but now i'm not that much scared of it especially after reading this.thank you very much for comforting HIV positive individuals, it means a lot to us, andile from cape town
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Comment by: Andile (Cape Town) Sun., Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm EDT
i thank this site very much, i was diagnosed by Hiv about two months ago and i feel scared all the time but this site is helping a lot, am visiting it just to read about hiv and to get some info from it.I just Richard Carnova's Story, thanks man for all that hope that you gave me, i will be visiting this site often and every time i feel alone i will come to it.thank you all.Andile from Cape Town, South africa
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Comment by: John (Terre Haute, IN) Sat., Sep. 22, 2012 at 1:28 am EDT
Wow! That was exactly what i needed right now! I was diagnosed in February this year, but sometimes it still seems like yesterday that i heard the news. So far i have told 4 people... 3 family and 1 friend. The friend said he was okay, but has avoided me since. The family members rejected me. Reading your post encouraged me and gave me a little hope back. Thank you.
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Comment by: Noma (Johannesburg, South Africa) Fri., Sep. 21, 2012 at 9:05 am EDT
Thank you for a very comforting and reassuring post. I thought i was finally ok with being HIV positive but your post made me face a few fears I still carry around and made me feel much better thatn I have since finding out about my status. So, thank you again.
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Positive Indeed


RRichard Cordova

Richard Cordova

Richard finds a positive attitude and a sense of humor to be two of his most powerful weapons in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Richard is the Director of Athletic Events at TPAN, and teaches Spinning classes at a local gym in Chicago. He also answers questions on TheBody.com's "Ask the Experts" forum on Safe Sex and HIV Prevention.

He enjoys talking about himself in the third person (on occasions like these) and finding new and exciting ways to be healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He has been living with HIV since 2002. Diagnosed with 123 T-cells, he is technically by government standards not HIV positive, but in fact a person living with AIDS. To that he says HA!


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