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Personal Stories

4 Things You'd Say to Your Younger (Positive or Not) Self

April 8, 2016

Deondre Moore

Deondre Moore

I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed and so I have been living (and thriving) with HIV for two years. I'm a Greater Than AIDS Ambassador, a NMAC Youth Scholar, and now a blogger for Since I'm young and this Sunday is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I decided to reach out to a few people older than me, who have lived longer with HIV, to learn from them. What insight do they have for a younger me -- or a younger them? What do they know now that they didn't know when they were diagnosed?

"I found out that I was HIV positive in 1992 -- the day after my 22nd birthday. Effective treatment hadn't arrived yet, so I lived my 20s like I wasn't going to see my 30s. Nowadays with effective treatment, whether you're living with HIV or not, you don't have to despair as I did. If you are living with HIV, as long as you adhere to effective treatment, you'll live a long life. Know hope!" -- Oriol Gutierrez, HIV+ since the age of 22

Oriol Gutierrez Jr.

"HIV is a human disease -- Get to know the facts, not the fiction. And protect yourself -- because your choices today have consequences tomorrow." -- Melissa Murphy, HIV+ since the age of 21

Melissa Murphy

"I would tell you (and a younger me) that the days of HIV bringing fear and punishment must be behind us. We can neither fear our diagnosis nor can we fear or judge those diagnosed. Human beings living with HIV are just that -- human beings, and we are as deserving of compassion, equality, and love as anyone else." -- Uriah Bell. HIV+ since the age of 18

Uriah Bell

"I'd tell young people that HIV is no longer a death sentence (like it was when I was young) but it is a lifesentence. It's not just happening to "those people," it's happening to all of us, no matter what your age, because the "H" in HIV stands for human. Most of us have a choice, so please choose wisely. Ignorance ends where education begins!" -- Venita Ray. HIV+ since the age of 44

Venita Ray

Then I decided to turn the question on myself. What would I tell youth who are just like me. Those who are living (and not living with HIV). And here's what I would say:

If you're living with HIV, it is important to take care of yourself. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, take as much time as you need for self care. I need you to get in and stay in treatment because no matter what you may think or what anyone else says, you are more than a statistic and you are valuable.

If you're a person who is HIV negative, then it's crucial that you stay that way. Take the precautions and love yourself enough to know that you deserve to protect your body and be mindful of the risk. I honestly thought that I was invincible at one point, and that HIV could never happen to me. I now realize, HIV can happen to anyone, no matter who you are, where you're from, how old you are, or your sexual preference.

What would you say? What have you said?

On National Youth HIV/AIDS Day (#NYHAAD) and every day, we have the tools and the information to stop HIV. If you are a young person or work with youth, here are just a few resources to get you started:

Deondre Moore is a Greater Than AIDS Ambassador, NMAC 2016 Youth Scholar and Black Voices Blogger.

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Day One With HIV: Finding Out Your Status, in Your Own Words's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Dwayne A Bourque (Lafayette LA) Tue., Apr. 19, 2016 at 7:14 am UTC
I applaud everything I have read. I found out that I was positive between 20 and 21 years of age. but I'm almost 100% positive I was infected at 19. I really didn't come out of the closet until I was 25 because I didn't think anybody wanted to be with me because of my status. how I found out I was wrong. I've been with my partner for 27 years and he is HIV negative. he's no angel and neither am I. he's done things with other people and I don't judge them for it. I just wish he would be a little bit more safe. what would I tell my younger self. that is a hard question to answer. maybe I would have told myself to listen to the news and realize what was going on around me.I did not know of a Disease that was transmitted by sex. I grew up In the country and did not watch much of the news. I found out from donating plasma. I had very limited partners. that would have put me at risk. one December I went to donate plasma and came back after Christmas in January and was pulled aside and they said they found anomalies in my blood. I did not know what they meant only thing I knew was I could no longer donate blood or plasma. would that change anything? No because the decisions I've made in the past is who and what I am. I just wish I would have been a little bit more informed before The Accidental infection.
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Comment by: David Cruz (New York) Sun., Apr. 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm UTC
We need a cure.
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