For our World AIDS Day 2010 section, we wanted to capture the diversity of the AIDS community. So, we reached out to people across the world -- mostly those who have never written for us before -- and asked them to guest blog. These columns are written by people who are living with HIV, have been affected by HIV, or work in the field.
There is a lot of negativity and heaviness when talking about HIV. People rarely get to hear the positivity and the beauty of living with this disease. So I want to provide a different side of the dialogue around the epidemic and talk about the benefits of living with HIV. Since my diagnosis a little over two years ago, I have seen so many positive changes that I would not have otherwise recognized at this point in my life. As crazy as this may sound, I have gotten to a place where I know I am lucky to be living with HIV.
Benefit No. 1: Clarity.
Every day since my diagnosis, I have gained more clarity. Who I am. What I want in life. What is most important to me. Who is most important to me. What I want in a friend. What I want in a life partner. My goals. My dreams. My present. My future.
All of it continues to become so clear. Suddenly that cliché of living every day like it is your last is resonating with me. If I really had just this one day to live, I would want to live it with purpose, with stability, and with passion.The small stuff -- the daily drama and the bullshit -- does not get to me like it used to. It is a breath of fresh air to have more of this inner peace.
Benefit No. 2: What I Stand For.
What is interesting about living with HIV is that it impacts you in different ways as you change and as your life changes. HIV has a tendency to blindside me when I thought I had a part of my process figured out. Lo and behold, it comes back -- incarnated -- with a bigger bite than before. Each time I get that bite, I tackle it and the parts of my life that it affects. In doing so, I become more grounded, more planted into the earth, more rooted, and more confident in what I stand for and why. I am extremely thankful and blessed to have supportive people who foster a safe space where I can explore and develop myself.
Benefit No. 3: Spirituality.
In the past two years I have really looked to the Higher Powers. In my healing process, I've come to terms with mortality. It is a fact that I am living with a chronic disease and it is a fact that my body will decay and return to the earth no matter how well I take care of myself. Reacting to these facts, I am in such awe of each human being's role in the grand scheme of things. It is a dose of humility. I am a fleeting blink of an eye in this universe, I don't have all the answers, and I am OK with that. I am OK with surrendering.
Benefit No. 4: The Perfect Filter.
Thank you HIV for being the PERFECT filter. Because of you I refuse to invest in people who do not love and appreciate me for me. Because of you I have been introduced to phenomenal people and everyday heroes I would not have met otherwise. Because of you I know that I have rights to knowledge, rights to speak out and be heard, rights to be respected, rights to have love, rights to have hot sex, and rights to have as many children as I want. Because of you I continue to develop true and real human relationships with my family and my friends. Because of you I have found a beautiful support system. Because of you my definition of "success" has become more robust. Because of you I cut down on spending time and energy on the shit that life can hand you. Because of you I know I have no limits.
For me, HIV is one of the best things that ever happened to me. My process continues to be difficult as I make choices and life decisions as an HIV-positive Asian woman in her very early 20s. However, through my diagnosis I have become empowered. I have found a voice and a blissful urge to live.