My Letter to HIV: A Letter From Ken Warnock

Ken Warnock
Ken Warnock

Dear HIV,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how I've been doing. After all, it has now been 10 years and two months since we officially became married and I am well aware of what you have been up to for the past decade. I had met you in the late 80's when you were dating friends and patients of mine. I saw what a cruel lover you could be. How sadistic you are in turning the beauty of youth and life into an almost unrecognizable heap of refuse and discarded dreams. In fact, I remember the first time I had been introduced to you. You had begun dating a young man that was my age who served on the Admiral's staff on board the ship I was stationed aboard. I was introduced to you through the results of a vial of blood that I had most-likely drawn from this young Mess Specialist. If I did draw his blood that day, I may have flirted, just a little bit with him. You are not the jealous type though.

More effective than 10,000 gay-bashers is what I thought back in the 80's and 90's. Your presence threatened, not only the modest gains in civil rights that our nascent movement had achieved by the time we learned your name, but also, our very existence. People that you would see at Gay Pride one year were suddenly gone the next. You are the ultimate burning bed killer, literally and figuratively! You have hurt and killed more people than every gay-basher, homophobe, racist and bigot combined! That is an impressive, yet tragic, achievement. An achievement you lack the mental capacity to even realize.

We, apparently, started dating sometime after January of 1999. I know this because in January of that year, a simple test that I had taken showed that we were not intimate at that point. You are a sneaky little bastard. The cliché saying today is, "Well played, my friend, well played!" It is an apt cliché. A person lets their guard down and you slip in stealing the security and confidence from those you decide to touch. Yoda might say, "Hacker, ultimate, you are!" You hack into our immune systems and encrypt your insidious code into our cells stripping them of their ability to effectively respond when your friends, the OI's come to party.

I have seen news stories where some woman marries some guy she met who is currently on death row and I think that is pretty stupid. They aren't even going to be able to consummate the marriage and yet there is a minister and a nice little ceremony. We didn't even have that, unless you count the handsome doctor who told me of our already completed marriage ritual. Not even one of those quickie Las Vegas marriages where we could have decided to divorce after just a few hours. Damn you, you did not even ASK me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement and so here we are today. I cannot divorce you and even if I could you may still take everything. I use the word "may" because, although you are clever and evil, I am about as clever, if not more so, and within me there is a goodness that evil can never touch!

What I saw in your past lovers of the 80's and 90's is a sense of bravery and a sense of indignation. I saw courage and outrage. I saw determination and perseverance. I saw a community that came together and rose up. You are an abusive lover and I, as millions before me, bear the scars of your hate and bitterness. I am not bitter. I am better. You have seen that each time you have knocked me down that I have gotten up. I am stronger and braver. You cannot cower me! I will stand up for myself and for my friends. Our physical beauty may be diminished by your attempts at disfigurement but our inner beauty will always shine as a tribute to those who have been taken in your holocaust and as a beacon of hope to those who have been touched by your icy-hot fingers. One day, and I plan on living to see the day, you will be banished. Your crimes are well-documented and your punishment will be painful for you. One day, you will no longer be permitted to touch another person. You will not be able to seek refuge in the hapless body to wreak your havoc. You will not be able to do what it is you do best which is to try to create the worst.

Perhaps, I may not live to see that day. I want you to know, however, that I will not weep when you are gone. My doctors and I will work to make sure that if you are not dead before me that it is not you or your party-animal friends that do me in. We may be wedded together for the rest of my life, but we are estranged from each other. No. That is not quite true. While you really know nothing about me, I know a fair amount about you and I stalk you each and every day with medications and prayer and faith and love. These are things you know nothing about. You are too stupid to know fear and I almost feel bad for you because of that. Perhaps if you know what fear is like you could be a more compassionate lover. It makes no difference to me because I will go on.

Respectfully Yours,
Ken Warnock