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Gay Men, HIV and Valentine's Day -- Disclosure, Openness and Self-Love

February 12, 2014

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Tommy Chesbro on Recognizing Your Value

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

I work with a lot of individuals from time to time who are newly diagnosed. Some of the things that I hear them say are that they feel tainted, or dirty, that "no one will ever want to be with me," that "I'm going to be alone forever."

What I like to tell them is that you don't know that. You can have a loving relationship. This is one thing that was told to me; because I used to push people away. For many years after I was infected, I wouldn't let people get close to me because of the fear of being hurt. I had a friend tell me, "You don't have the right to tell people whether they can love you or not." And that sunk in, somehow.

So I want people to know that you're valuable. Just because you have HIV doesn't make you a monster. You have something to contribute to this community. You have something to contribute to the world. Maybe you haven't found that yet, but it's there. And this is a wake-up call to find that, and use this as something to change your life in a positive way.

You can let this destroy you, or you can let it lead you down a path and on a journey that will take some struggle; but nothing worthwhile ever happens without struggle. So embrace it. Take the journey. Do what you have to do to live a strong life. And don't let it defeat you.

Make sure to watch or read the full interview with Tommy.

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