I've told my husband and siblings and their wives and my parents and about four friends. But not my kids, who are tweens. I know I'll have that conversation with them one day, but for now, I just don't want them worrying about me.
I used to speak publicly about my HIV status -- until I got pregnant. Then we moved, and my whole world became about my family unit, and I wanted to focus my attention on nesting and having a baby. Being able to have children was a big deal for me. I just wanted to be normal for a change and forget about having HIV. In the short term, that was great, but now, I feel isolated. I wish I could let someone I work with know my daily struggle. I know that living long term with HIV has made me lose weight, but people who see me say, with jealousy, "How do you stay so skinny?" I wish I could tell them. My childbearing experience was also very different. When women talk about breastfeeding, I wish I could talk about why I didn't do that.
I think if I came out at work, it would be a big story at first and then would mellow out. But, because I work with kids, I feel like someone might run with it. I don't want to draw any attention to myself. I'm not that kind of person anymore. I don't even have a Facebook page.
But then, people say stupid stuff about HIV, and I wish I could say, "That's the wrong info." Sometimes I do, but often I do not because speaking up affects me emotionally. We had an incident in school last year where a sixth grader in sex ed said, "If I had any family member with AIDS, I would kill them." I was so upset. The teacher talked to the parent about it and told the principal, but the principal did nothing. I talked to the teacher and said, "He needs to understand that's not OK." So, there was a punishment, and he had to write something about it so he understood. But I don't think it changed him.
I miss talking about HIV publicly. I've thought about writing about it so that I'm one step removed from it -- some kind of semi-fictionalized memoir as a cathartic process. In my old life, I had lots of close friends who also had HIV, and I was in support groups with them. But in my current life? No. I'm not connected to my old life.