My name is Luis. I'm from Guatemala and moved to the USA in 1976. When I first got here, I lived with my brother and his family. A few years later I moved to live with a supposed girlfriend. We were together for a period of 5 years. Of course we were not married, but we were together and then I realized what was really happening to me. I realized that I liked men. I started to go out with homosexual men but I would hide it. I was living a very happy life. I met a man who was about my age and we became partners for almost 14 years. During this time we were really happy and we did lots of things together.
One day I felt very sick, so my partner and I went to see a doctor. The doctor told me that I had pneumonia. This is when things turned sad. I was given a blood test and tested positive for HIV. When my partner found out that I was HIV positive, he broke up with me. Of course, I became deeply depressed. Thank God I had my family to talk to about my problem. And because of the medication I am taking, I am able to tell this story.
When I found out I was HIV positive, I told my younger sister and her husband. They both knew about my homosexuality but not about my HIV status. My sister was sad but my brother-in-law convinced her that this was a treatable disease, that if I got treatment I would be able to manage this disease.
They convinced me to look for my ex-boyfriend so that he could get himself checked. I was able to convince him to get tested again. The first time we got tested together he came out negative, the second time, three months later, he came out positive. He blamed me for the infection initially, but then we spoke to people who explained how the virus manifests itself in different people.
Another friend that I told, told me not to worry about it because he was HIV positive himself. I asked him why he had not told me about his situation. He shared with me that he was afraid that I would look at him differently and possibly our friendship would end. By him telling me, I was able to share a lot with him. He was a good friend of my ex-boyfriend and also became a good friend of mine. He passed away about a year ago.
The rest of my family does not know; they keep on asking why I continue taking medicine. They may have found out that I was sick after my good friend passed away. In his death certificate, it mentioned that he had died of AIDS. My family made sure to share with me that they believe that people living with HIV should not be ashamed of their disease. People living with the disease need support and understanding. This has made it easier on me. Someday, I will tell them, some day very soon.
I do not wish that anybody should go through a similar situation and I hope that we keep educating ourselves about HIV. I would like to share with others that this disease can happen to anyone, not just homosexuals. When I tell my nieces and nephews, I will let them know that they are at risk, that everyone is at risk. For anyone reading this, please take care of yourselves.
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Breaking the Silence... (Rompiendo El Silencio).