January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011
So What, He Is HIV Positive

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a safe and great weekend. It is going to be a very busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear. We start the week with a Broward County Department of Health meeting and end the week with a two day Emergency ADAP Summit. So stay tuned for pictures from various events.

Today, I would like to share a fantastic column by my friend David Vandygriff:

You met this great guy last night with a rocking HOT body, cute face, and lips to die for. You had some of the greatest conversation and now youíre intrigued to learn more about this person. Itís brunch time on Sunday morning with your normal friends. You bring up the guy you met last night to your friends. Your friends say I know him; he is a bottom and is HIV positive. Your mind races and your heart sinks. You quickly stop planning the wedding you were dreaming of. WHY?

Truth is this occurs on a daily basis within our community. Someone telling someone else that another individual is HIV positive, who most likely heard this from someone else and not the individual themselves. Please re-read the previous sentence and you can just how silly it sounds and reads in black & white print. The saddest part of this is that you do not even bother to have this conversation with the individual. In my opinion, such failure to do is very disrespectful. You see I can talk about this because in 1992, a time when people were dying and medications not amble to treat HIV/AIDS, I was in a relationship with someone that was HIV positive. The stigma was much worse and medications or life was slim to none. People quickly assumed that I was HIV positive because my partner was. I failed to neither see their point of view nor even begin to understand such reasoning. My biggest fear at the time was that my lover was dying and I couldnít stop it. I never really feared for my own health, because we always took extra precautions. I loved him and loved him unconditionally. We were together for over 7 years and raised a child together with many businesses. He told many times over and over again that I had brought the ability for him to dream and live life again. I feel I was the lucky one to have known and been loved by the most wonderful individual that shared the parenting of his son with me. I hold the honor of knowing him and being loved by him.

So now what to do with this information in a respectful manor is the question. Most guys will just walk away or pretend to be no longer interested. The conversation is not brought up but maybe approached by the person that has HIV. First, have the conversation and please do so in a private setting. Clubs or bars are not the place for such a conversation. Second, donít be afraid to ask questions that you want answers to (i.e. when, where, how, what is safe, what isnít safe, etc). Typically, a person living with HIV is not afraid to discuss it unless he/she is in still in the beginning phases of accepting the diagnosis themselves. Remember many people go at different speeds of acceptance. What has worked for one person may not work for another in the situation. Tread lightly, follow with caution, and above all else use compassion. Third, realize that just because the person is HIV positive doesnít mean you canít date, sleep, nor kiss them. Condoms were made for a reason. Plus, knowing that a person is HIV positive requires extra precautions that you typically wouldnít take with the trick you took home last weekend that could have saved your own life. Yes, what Iím saying is that ďKNOWINGĒ is reducing the risk.

Now you have a decision to make. Do you pursue this possible connection, listen to the rumor mill, take part in the rumor, or grow-up. It seems too often that people within our own community are still lacking in education of HIV. So how do we stop and change this wrong. Well education is a step in the right direction. Many websites are full of educational material such as www.thebody.com a wonderful resource of information concerning HIV and those living with HIV/AIDS. Another step is realizing whether or not you can handle dating someone that is HIV positive. HIV positive individuals typically have an increased emotional state. Getting back on track after such a diagnosis is something of a personal journey for the individual. Most are not looking for sympathy or pity, ONLY seeking understanding themselves. If you are ever so lucky to really become the person on the inside with someone that is HIV positive be ready for the most intense, emotional, caring, devoted, and self-reliant relationship you have ever experienced. You will never accept anything else in another relationship and be left wanting ONLY the same type of relationship for the rest of your life on Earth. Now the ball is in your court and you must make some grown-up decisions. If you choose to pursue this possible connection, then be upfront, honest, ask questions, and be prepared to be involved in medical treatments. Typically, the support of a spouse/partner, friends, & family is success in a long life battle for someone living with HIV/AIDS. If you think you canít handle this then simply tell the individual such. They will have much more respect for you and you just might have a true friend for life.

Hope you enjoyed his column as much as I did. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab