Hello, I'm Mr. "Reckless" and that is exactly how I have behaved throughout my life. I can only hope that this aspect of my story will help our community prevent the transmission of HIV. I know that as long as we are healthy we think that is never going to happen to us. This is a big mistake. I believe that in order to stop the spread of this disease, we need to assume that everybody is infected and it doesn't matter if they look healthy. We need to protect ourselves every time; in that way we are not only preventing HIV but other STDs as well.
In my experience, I thought I was protecting myself, but I was not and now I'm another AIDS case. I can assure you that when I was told I was positive, I could not believe it. I was using condoms all the time. I was very cautious about protection, but a simple slip up can lead to any kind of infection. I met a very young boy, he was about 18. I thought he was the love of my life, so we had sex without condoms. In my mind, I thought he was healthy, because of his looks and his youth. I was wrong! A few months later he started to have problems. He had symptoms that I now know are HIV-related.
In 1998 I tested positive for HIV. I couldn't believe it and I felt like I wanted to run far away from everybody and everything. The first person I told was my partner, the eighteen year old. He said that he would be there for me and that we would always be together. Although we broke up about a year ago we still live together. He stayed with me and supported me.
The next person I told was my best friend. We were hanging out drinking a beer and I told him because I was feeling so depressed and I wanted to tell him. At first he thought I was kidding, but then I told him that it was the truth. He took the glass we were drinking from and he threw it out. He walked out. I was so devastated. He called the next day and said that he was very sorry, that if I could forgive him. He said that he would always be there for me and would help me. Since that day, our relationship has changed, we are still close but it's not the same as it was before.
The main person that gave me the most support was my case manager from the Jeffery Goodman Center. She was the most supportive, she listened to me, told me to take care of myself, to take my medication; she helped me feel less depressed and stronger about my life. Although she no longer works there anymore, I miss her and appreciate all her love and support. I'll never forget her.
So, it does not really matter whom you have sex with. You need to be informed. This is very important and benefits you and the community. As for myself, as well as for other HIV-positive people, living with HIV is very difficult. I ask God to give me strength and knowledge to help these who might help. I got a lot of help from the Jeffery Goodman clinic and APLA. I'm grateful for the services that they provide me. I'm also grateful for the support they give to people infected with HIV. Thanks again and I hope they will continue doing this great job.
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Breaking the Silence... (Rompiendo El Silencio).