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Handling Depression and Having Pride After an HIV Diagnosis

An Interview With Richard Cordova -- Part of the Series _This Positive Life_

    This Positive Life
    "I had been partying. I was heavily into crystal meth at the time. And you know, I had been having unprotected receptive anal sex. I knew. I knew the test was going to come back positive. There was no, 'Oh my gosh! How did that happen?'"
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    "And then I realized, as my numbers climbed up, my immune system repaired itself and I got healthier, the realization came to me that I was going to die, but it wasn't going to be from the HIV; it was going to be from the partying, from doing all the drugs."
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    "I think we all have this innate fear of rejection. I know it's a really strong motivating factor for me, is thinking that people are going to reject me. So when I realized that people were not going to reject me -- and then also the realization that some people might -- and that was OK."
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    "My mom is totally OK with it now. She gets it. I run marathons. I do 200-mile bike rides. I teach spin. She sees that I'm healthy and that I'm going to live a long life, and I'll outlive her. But in that moment her world was definitely, I'm sure, collapsing around her when I told her."
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    "Ask for help if you need something. Keep pushing till you get what you need. And if you're not getting what you need somewhere, then go somewhere else. But don't just try to figure it out by yourself. It's been done a million times over by a million people's mistakes, blood, sweat and tears. So learn from those, and then you'll have a better place to start from."
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    "I've run six marathons, about to run my seventh, in Hawaii. My fastest marathon time was 3 hours and 28 minutes, which is about a 7-minute and 10-second pace per mile. I've completed three 200-mile bike rides to raise money for HIV/AIDS services."
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    "Because for those of us out there that are OK with being positive, we are the minority. We are not the majority. We are the 1 percent. And so it is time for us to step out of our shadow, and to say, 'You know what? Being HIV positive is OK.' Be OK with it. If people reject you, let them. They're toxic. They don't need to be in your life. You're beautiful. I'm beautiful. Being HIV positive is A-OK."
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    "And don't be afraid to ask the question, 'Is this OK with me? Am I happy with this?' If you're not happy with something, then change it. And if you change it and you're still not happy, then change it again."
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    Olivia G. Ford

    Olivia G. Ford

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    Olivia Ford is a contributing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.