November 25, 2008
"When I tested HIV positive, I felt lonely and deserted," Ahmad Salcido recalls. "There was a pain that wouldn't go away." He knew he wouldn't be able to cope with his diagnosis alone, but he also knew that he couldn't turn to his family: He's never been very close with his Mexican mother or his Arabian fatherin fact, they still have no idea that he's gay, and he feels it has to stay that way, at least for now. "My Mexican culture does not approve of HIV, or of being homosexual," Ahmad says. "Being Muslim and being gay? Wow!"
But Ahmad had one person he felt certain he could trust, a close friend living in San Francisco who Ahmad now calls his "little angel." Ahmad's decision to share his HIV status with that friend was a difficult one, but it made all the difference in the world: At his friend's urging, Ahmad moved to San Francisco, partook of HIV support groups and counseling, and even managed to become part of a clinical trial that provides him with free HIV treatment.
Ahmad also changed his lifestyle: He's eating smarter and making sure his health and happiness are a priority. "I have to take care of myself now more than ever now that my immune system is compromised," he says. "I'm learning how to make the right choices." With help from his therapist, he's putting together a plan for how to come out to his family without hurting themor himself.
Looking back, Ahmad no longer feels the despair he initially felt after he was diagnosed. Living with HIV is not as bad as he feared it would be, he says. "This is a new beginning."