Up Close & Personal
Find inspiration in these first-person stories about gay men living with HIV/AIDS. In the personal profiles, exclusive columns and blog entries below, you can get firsthand knowledge about dating and sex, substance abuse, homophobia, disclosure, religion, coming out, self-esteem, growing older and much more.
In addition to the first-person stories below, be sure to browse TheBody.com's full listing of inspiring stories featuring HIV-positive men.
|This Positive Life: Newly Living With HIV, Josh Robbins Is "Still Josh" -- And Still an Advocate|
Josh Robbins was already an HIV advocate in Nashville, Tenn., when he was himself diagnosed with HIV in January 2012. He'd supported local HIV organizations' events as a small-business owner, and was even part of an HIV vaccine study. Then a brief unprotected sexual encounter put him on the other side of his advocacy activities.
|A Day in the Life Video Series: Robert Breining on Getting Support Online and Off|
Cyber-activist Robert is used to connecting with community online. After having a rare allergic reaction to his first regimen, Robert was hesitant to start HIV meds again -- so he took to TheBody.com and POZ I AM, the social network he created, for information and support. Robert speaks on life, love, disclosure and finding a regimen that's nearly side effect-free.
|This Positive Life: A Trailblazer Still Marches Forward|
Gil Kudrin grew up with HIV -- he was diagnosed in the early '80s at only 18 years old -- and has outlived many of his peers. At 53 years old, he has marched with ACT UP, helped found Nightsweats & T-Cells (which employs HIV-positive people and gives them work skills and experience) and has raised two young, homeless boys as his own sons.
|This Positive Life: An Interview With Jake Ketchum|
Jake Ketchum got his HIV diagnosis in 1998 at a routine check-up right before the birth of his daughter -- and it was a big surprise. His then fiancée, Becky, was there to support him, and he claims to this day that his daughter saved his life and continues to motivate him to fight. Jake's dating pool prior to his marriage had included men; it was no different after he and Becky divorced, but now dating meant facing disclosure.
|This Positive Life: An Interview With Timothy Brown|
Timothy Brown, the first person in the world to be cured of HIV, is soft-spoken and kind -- but unswerving in his dedication to finding a way to cure everyone. Watch Timothy open up about the joys and frustrations of being the famed "Berlin Patient."
Columns and Blog Entries
National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2010
A review of the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic ... might leave some people puzzled about why National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will be marked on September 27. Many of us in the HIV/AIDS community (and some people beyond this circle) well know that gay men have been longtime leaders in calling for an effective nationwide response to this epidemic. The history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States as it has evolved over the last 30 years has been significantly informed by these voices.
So why in 2010 does The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) call for the observance of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day?
Subconscious Death-Wish of a Gifted, Young Black Man
I wrote my first book, Premonitions ... of a Young Man, Unscathed, to attempt to come to terms with all this. Writing it, I realized that one reason I enjoy anonymous sex as much as I do is my distrust for men, especially gay men. Writing this book also helped me to realize that there is NOTHING wrong with me. I am not "flawed." I am not perverted. I am a man, made in the image of GOD, knowing all too well that I will fall at times, but I must make the decision to pick myself up, and GOD will continually be there by my side. This type of unconditional love is what I feel that many gay men seek. Yet, most do not choose to behave accordingly to welcome unconditional love into their lives.
My distrust stems from various behaviors that I have been exposed to throughout the years, involving gay men. When you consider it, many gay men learned at a very young age to be dishonest and deceitful, all to conceal their true identity, as it was deemed devilish, ungodly, or plain perverted. This behavior simply perpetuates itself throughout one's life. Before long, a person begins to believe that how they are living is "acceptable," therefore projecting their lies and bullshit onto others, who are unsuspecting and being hurt in the process. Do you see the vicious cycle?
I think it's safe to say that whenever I start a sentence, "Mom and Dad, I've got something I need to tell you both," they brace themselves for just about anything that might come out of my mouth. My life has, if nothing else, been decorated with a few stunning, life-changing "plot twists," and those two special people have seen me through each one, no matter what.
I know what some of you must be thinking: Is this guy for real? He tells us he's got a loving partner, a stellar physician, a cute dog, has angels dropping in left and right, is strangely grateful to have HIV, and now wants us to believe that his parents are amazing as well?
I Am HIV Positive and I Don't Blame Anybody -- Including Myself
I am HIV positive, and I don't blame anybody for it -- not myself or anybody else.
He didn't rape me and he did not trick me. It was through our unprotected sex that I became HIV positive. Since seroconverting, I have been very conscious of the language I use to discuss transmission, particularly my own. To say "he gave me HIV" obscures the truth, it was through a mutual act, consensual sex, that I became HIV positive.
Outed With Love
My name is Jimmy Mack and I was born gay and an alcoholic. I always knew I was gay, in the same way any heterosexual person will tell you they always knew they were straight. To this day, it offends me when people say "sexual preference" -- as if it was a choice -- to which I always say: "Why in the world would I choose to be part of a group that it is still socially and politically acceptable to discriminate against?"
My sexual identity is gay and although I've had sex with women, I prefer not to. So my sexual preference is not to have sex with women; my sexual identity says I am programmed to have sex with men.
HIV and Crystal Meth: A Fairy Tale
Crystal meth let me let go of my childhood and my HIV diagnosis, temporarily.
There are more details to this story, and, the story is still being written. But the truth remains that I am an addict, and I will be for the rest of my life. I have made the decision, today, to leave crystal meth behind. But it is always there, just out of sight, waiting for a moment of weakness or a desire to escape, and more than once, I have gone back to her arms only to find out that Ike is still there, bigger, buffer, and meaner than ever before.
"You Can't Handle the Truth!": Gay Men and HIV Education
Why is so much more demanded of gay men? Why do so many fail to recognize that our sex lives aren't just matters of physical pleasure? Sex has deep emotional and psychological value to us. It's how we express love and achieve intimacy. So it pains me that HIV education sometimes treats gay men's sex lives almost as if they're superfluous.
This is especially hard for me to accept as an HIV-positive gay man, because I think sex may be even more important for poz guys than for gay men in general. The stigma of HIV infection can create feelings of unworthiness and undesirability in poz men. For those of us afflicted with such emotions, sex can be tremendously affirming and validating. It can serve as an antidote to the isolation caused by the disease.
Want more? Check out TheBody.com's full listing of inspiring stories featuring HIV-positive men.