Marking His 'AIDSiversary,' Charles Sanchez Reflects on 13 Years Since His HIV Diagnosis

Charles Sanchez
Charles Sanchez

When Charles Sanchez found out he had an HIV diagnosis, he was in a "full blown panic," about what to say to his family.

Except, they'd already known for weeks.

Thirteen years ago, Sanchez thought he had a particularly nasty case of bronchitis that hadn't responded to rounds of antibiotics. Then his roommate found him on the floor, blue from lack of oxygen.

About two and a half weeks later, he woke up with his family around him in the hospital.

"They knew I had AIDS before I did," he explains in his new video marking the anniversary of his HIV diagnosis. "I was so full of sadness and shame and fear."

Today, his HIV viral load is undetectable, and he identifies as an HIV activist focused on combatting HIV stigma.

"I got HIV from being a human being and doing things that human beings do," he says. "That's really liberating to me."

Today, he uses the character of Merce, the lead character in his web series of the same name, as a humorous way to depict the living in living with HIV.

"Certainly, Merce has issues ... but his HIV is secondary. The show is about joy and about choosing happiness and about making those kinds of decisions that make your life full and complete," Sanchez says. "And no one in Merce's life treats him like a lesser person because he has HIV, which is my experience thankfully."

Watch his whole AIDSiversary video here:

JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.