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Hanging Up My Superman Cape

A Straight Black Male Gets Real About Getting Tested

November 27, 2012

Floyd Galloway

Floyd Galloway

I never thought of getting tested for HIV. Never thought I needed to. I'm a heterosexual, sexually active Black man living in a world with many obstacles. Being a Black man living in the United States is one of them. I want to thrive and not merely exist.

As a "conscious Black man," I am concerned about my community. However, worrying about contracting HIV/AIDS had not been a major concern for me. For years I didn't think I was in the danger group. Yes, I'd heard the statistics: It's an epidemic. No, I hadn't been tested. And yes, I'd had many instances of unprotected sex -- playing Russian roulette with my life and the lives of my sexual partners. But like most Black men, I wear an "M" for masculinity on my chest, just as Superman wears his big "S." I'm invincible; no Kryptonite can weaken me.

That is, until this past spring, when a former sexual partner called several times and left messages: "There may be a problem, and I really need to talk to you." All I could think was, "What the fuck? Could she be pregnant?" Ignoring her was not an option.

She apologized profusely and told me to get checked out. Her herpes had resurfaced, and I might have it.

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I was pissed. At 53, I had never had any STDs, and now someone was telling me I might have one. But I was actually angrier with myself than with her. How could I have had sex without a condom? I really didn't know her.

Then I began to think, "Maybe she couldn't tell me she had HIV." I had to get tested just to know my status, for my sake and the sake of others.

I have several friends with HIV. One, Miasia Pasha, has been a force in the Phoenix area promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. Through her I learned that National HIV Testing Day was coming up. So on June 27, I went to get tested.

Of course she was the first person I ran into when I entered Phoenix First Congregational United Church of Christ. She thought I was there to report on the day, since I work as a writer. I was so preoccupied with my fear about my own HIV status that I barely heard her rattle off statistics and talk about the need for more Black men to get tested.

I had already posted on Facebook and Twitter that I was going to find out my status, hoping to inspire other Black men -- especially heterosexual Black men -- to do the same.

After an excruciating wait, I learned that my HIV-test result was negative. So I posted a photo of myself holding a sign that read, "I Know Mine." After a visit to the doctor, I learned that I didn't have herpes, either.

But after all that anxiety, I've hung up my Superman cape. My games of Russian roulette are over. I will continue to get tested and have safer sex because I am "Greater Than AIDS."

Floyd Galloway is president and CEO of Great Press America, Inc., in Phoenix.



This article was provided by Black AIDS Institute. It is a part of the publication Black AIDS Weekly. Visit Black AIDS Institute's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

See Also
TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
More Personal Accounts on African Americans and HIV


Reader Comments:

Comment by: Gayle (Invercargill, New Zealand) Sun., Jan. 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm EST
Seriously!!!
Greater than Aids!!!
And u call yourself a writer? Cos what I read is until an honest sexual partner was brave and told you that you might possibly be infected with Herpes you never took safe sex seriously.
If you did have HIV imagine how many others u might have infected in blissful ignorance, and would you even know who they are and be able to and brave enough to contact them???
My exception to your story is HIV is a virus with no consciousness and no discrimination.
You were just really lucky!!!
I am glad u were negative but perhaps you should reconsider your superhuman mentality altogether and put say something like 'Lucky escape' or 'should go buy a lotto with this much luck' ;)
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Comment by: Queen (OHIO) Sat., Jan. 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm EST

Good I am glad that your negative!
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