Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunlight Found You

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22 and Positive

Here's a blog from Beyond the Odds blogger Mr. Maximus. Have you seen our new site?

In 2007, when I first found out that I was HIV positive I felt so angry that my partner kept his status a secret from me. At the same time I felt hurt and sad. I could not even believe that I am positive. My Ex and I were going out for a year and we were having unprotected sex. He asked me nonchalantly if I wanted to use condoms during sex and I told him that I don’t use them. He responded, “That’s okay it’s your choice”.

At the time his comment seemed a bit strange but I paid it no mind. I did not know that he was indirectly telling me he was HIV positive. I guess I did not understand him. The night he finally decided to man up and be direct about his status was on New Year's Eve. We were in the Castro at a hangout spot called The Bar. I had just finished drinking my second Long Island Iced Tea when he told me he had something important to tell me. I said, “What is it?” He said, “I’m HIV positive”. It hit me like a fist to my face, knocking the breath out of me. I was ripped out of my drunken state of mind and instantly sobered up. I sat there for a while not speaking, letting the news to set in before I said anything. Eventually, I said “I am not mad at you for not telling me, but at some point it would have been nice to have been told. I am not going to dump you, but you are going to stick by my side all the way through.”

Every three months for about a year, I would go to the Larkin Street Medical clinic to get tested for HIV. In the testing room, I would sit in a chair sweating and waiting for the test results. To my surprise my test result always came back negative for HIV. Then one month, my lymph nodes started to swell, and then my boyfriend suggested I head back to the clinic for another test. This time, I decided to go somewhere new to get tested expecting the usual results of negative. However, this time when the nurse returned with the results she told me in a bittersweet tone, “The test indicates that you are HIV positive.” After I got the result they took six vials of blood from my arm to do a more thorough test for HIV. The next week, I returned to get the results of the blood test. The test came back “indeterminate.”

I contacted Larkin Street to inform them that I just found out that I was HIV positive. I told them about my last test being “indeterminate” and they said to take another one at their clinic. So the next week, I went down and got tested again. When the nurse came in, I told him that I just received a positive test result and then another that was “indeterminate.” He gave me two tests, the oral swab and the finger prick. The saliva came back as negative and the blood came back positive.

Immediately after receiving a confirmation, I told my boyfriend that I was in fact positive. His response was to break up with me that same day. This left me feeling brokenhearted, unloved and taken advantage of. I felt like killing myself because I was just diagnosed with HIV and all alone. Our earlier conversation at the Bar meant nothing to me now. One year later, I’m dealing with the reality of being 22 years old and HIV positive, all by myself. I have no family, no friends, no one to lean on.

The process of accepting of my status has been a long and hard road. There are times when I feel like ending my life. The stress and depression that I feel on a daily basis is overwhelming. To cope with my reality at times, I smoke marijuana, drink alcohol and pop ecstasy pills. I feel like an outcast every time I go out because I am almost always under the influence of something. I walk around with my head down so that I will not be confronted by other people. I know I can’t run from my reality but at times I attempt to hide from it. Eventually at some point the time will come for me to face my fears. But till then, I’ll just do me with the hopes of a better tomorrow.
For Beyond the Odds, I'm Mr. Maximus.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

More than Sex

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here's one of blogs written by JoJo Napoles.

Today I would like to talk about something that happened to me.

First of all, I don't consider myself the type of guy that goes online to look for sex, but something happened that one night in particular that made me do it. I was feeling kind of sad and disappointed that day and I wanted somebody to make me feel better.

I decided to go on Craigslist and I saw an ad for a “straight” guy; at least that's what he wrote there. He was very cute, Middle Eastern looking, between 25 and 30 years old, and seemed like a nice guy. So I emailed him and we agreed to meet at the marina near to my place. I was nervous, but exited excited at the same time.

I got there first. He approached five minutes later. We said hello to each other and smiled as if we had known each other for a long time. I felt very comfortable with him and he told me he felt the same. I was glad to have meet someone who I really liked. He was so nice.

We took my car to a shopping center and then he drove us to his place in the hills. While traveling there we talked about our lives. I asked him why a straight guy would go onto a website for gay people looking to hookup. He said “that's was a good question.” He considers himself straight, is even engaged to be married! But on that particular night he was really horny and wanted to be with a dude.

We liked each other and we enjoyed our time together. My sadness even went away. Driving
to his place took 20 minutes. Before we entered his home he told me that he needed to head upstairs first and turn off the lights in the house because his neighbor was nosy. I waited downstairs for a few minutes and headed upstairs. He waited in his room.

We kissed and I was felt like I was in heaven – crazy, but really good at the same. We went to his room and began kissing and touching. Then, we started talking again. He asked me if I was honest and I started feeling kind of weird. I said, “Yes, pretty honest.” I was scared. I wanted to tell him that I had HIV, but was waiting for the right moment. Even though we planned to have safe sex I think it is very important to tell the person you're having sex with your status. I know it's hard but it works for me, it makes me feel very good to be that honest.

I had to say it so I just came out and told him: “There's something I want you to know about me that I think it is very important.” He stared at me and he said, "You have HIV?!" I said, “Yes.” I felt bad and at the same time relieved. His reaction was my main concern, and I was amazed when he said he wasn't mad at me. I felt like I had wasted his time, but he actually made me feel good. He said that he made a promise long time ago, that he would never have sex with someone who is HIV positive. At first it felt weird, but I think that the reason we had gotten together that night was bigger than just having sex.

I told him not to trust people and to always use a condom, because there are people that say they are disease-free but it is not true. These are the same people who keep having unprotected sex with people and spreading it the disease. Anyway, he said we couldn't hookup because he had made a promise to keep his future family safe from disease. I agreed.

We kissed and hugged and he took me back to get my car. He told me on the way back that he saw sorrow coming out of my eyes. That really shocked me because to me it meant he and I both connected. I believe that this night, I wasn't looking for sex; but instead a strong connection with someone.

We arrived back at the shopping center and said goodbye to and thanked each other. That was the last time I ever saw from him but I hope he is well. I'm very glad to have met someone like him, even if he was already taken.

It was important for me to tell him to always protect himself because I never got the same opportunity. If I had been aware of every one of my partners’ status I may never have contracted the disease. I want my story to help inform other people about the conversations they should be having with all of their sexual partners. Most importantly, I want people to always practice safe sex, especially if they are unaware of their partner’s status.

For Beyond the Odds, I'm JoJo Naploes.