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HIV Disclosure: African Americans Tell How They Told


David Garner

David Garner, Houston, Texas, diagnosed in 1993

My rule once I became HIV positive was that I said, "Before we get naked, I'm going to tell you."

That was just my rule of thumb. I chose to bring it up in conversation some kind of way along the way. I kind of let them decide to do whatever they felt like they needed to do. I got turned down sometimes. A lot of times I got rejected. But at no time, thankfully, did I experience any violence.

What were the best and worst responses you have ever gotten when you disclosed?

The best response when I told someone I was HIV positive came from my daughter, who looked up at me with those little brown eyes she has and said, "Well Daddy, no matter what happens to you, I will always love you." After that, it's like, you know, who cares? Everybody else can take a number, because I'm all right now.

The worst response, probably, was from someone I thought was my friend. This was kind of early on when I was still in the Navy, and I ran across someone -- we were close while I was on the ship -- and I told him what was going on with me.

He kind of looked at me. He was younger than me. We never had a physical relationship, but we were close friends because we worked in close quarters, and we talked a lot. He looked at me and said, "How could you do that to yourself?" He proceeded to just berate me: "You should have known better. There is no reason why you should have it."

He was absolutely right. But of course, it doesn't help. It hurts more than it helps. Of course, in hindsight he was completely right. But he got so upset he just walked off, and I never heard from him again. I would hear about him through other friends, and I would send my regards on, but I never saw him after that.

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