In 2009, Garland Godfrey met a guy in a bar and, after some drinks, they went home together and had sex, a story not all that uncommon. What's also not uncommon is that, partially due to the alcohol, no condom was used.
"Afterward, he asked me how long I had been positive, and my response was, 'Negative,'" said Godfrey.
The man revealed to him that he was HIV-positive, so after talking about it, Godfrey was guided to visit a clinic the next day to get treated with PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), which can prevent a new HIV infection within a 72-hour window from time of possible exposure.
"I didn't know what [PEP] was, and I think it was the first I had heard of it, so the next day I tried to ignore it and went back and forth with myself and just couldn't let it go," he said. "I left early from work that day and took a cab to the clinic, and as I arrived, they were shutting the door and locking it."
Godfrey took the time to explain his reason for being there to the person locking up. "He sighed, rolled his eyes and told me to come in, take a seat and handed me the medication and told me to take them while I waited for a counselor," he recalled.
The counselor spoke with Godfrey, assured him that he was within the proper time window, and explained how the treatment worked and that he would have to be on it for a period of 30 days. When she asked him how it had happened, he told her, "I didn't want to spoil the mood, and I didn't want to be rejected." Godfrey then took a rapid HIV test, began his regime of PEP and continued to be tested every few months for a year.
"So today, I am negative, and for me, it was my 'aha moment' for AIDS/LifeCycle. I had always been a donor for friends but then it became more personal, and I realized how the services can truly affect people and change lives, as they had mine."
After his experience with PEP and his "aha moment," Godfrey quickly bought a big steel navy blue bike. "It was so heavy, but I loved it," he joked. 2010 was his first ride and he has been riding ever since. "I ride because I realized that I could raise more money versus donating, and I wanted people to be able to use the services that I had and, really, that was that."
Discussing HIV status is something that everyone should think about before engaging in sex. It's typically harder for someone who is HIV-positive to be the first to bring up the topic and potentially "spoil the mood," as Godfrey said.
But in his case, as an HIV-negative man, he was concerned about being rejected for just bringing up HIV -- something that really isn't discussed all that much -- before sex. Regardless of HIV status, openness and honesty with sexual partners prior to engaging in sex is key to avoiding a more awkward conversation the next morning.
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