Thursday, February 5, 2015

So, I accidentally outed myself as HIV Positive on Facebook.

So I accidentally outed myself as HIV Positive. I was responding to a moving article in the Gay Star News about those of us who survived the epidemic back in the 80s. .  The article was moving, I clicked to comment about my own experience and before I knew it, the article and my comment about sero-converting in 1988 was posted to my Facebook page. Initially I was ashamed.  An hour had passed before I noticed what I had done. I figured, well, it's out there, I wasn't secretive about it when I initially found out at 19, but at the time I was told I would have "at best three years" and to "get my affairs in order." So I really didn't see the point about being secretive. Now I can't imagine what affairs a 19 year-old would have to "get in order." but I didn't die and that was a great disappointment. I had envisioned the maudlin tragedy of a young emaciated man being wheeled off some podium after receiving a diploma and quietly dying 20 minutes later. Instead I am far from emaciated and far from that 19 year old boy that received that diagnosis. 

So after my "accidental outing" I really did have to sit back and think about this journey. How I live in the city that has the highest infection rate in the U.S. and the real apathy around the issue.  I will be honest, HIV infection to me, at this time in my life, is no big deal.  I know that sounds terrible. That I should be suffering a gigantic emotional cost, that my prospects and my dreams should some way be diminished because of my status, it's just not true.  It's simply 3 trips to the doctor a year and two pills a day. That's it. Of course I am an educated, affluent, white(ish) male and I do understand that I have the resources to make my HIV management simple.

That is not to say I haven't paid some price along the way, and that perhaps there are opportunities I didn't take, or worries about illnesses, or just plain "fuck, I'm infected"pity parties. But those I'm sure have been far and few in between. After realizing that I wasn't going to die, hell I didn't even get sick, new treatments came out, I got married, raised a child and my HIV status faded into the background. Many of battles protecting HIV positive individuals in housing and employment were won. Life moved on.
Oh crap, TMI.....

So the article touched me, I wanted to share, inadvertently sharing it with 450 friends on Facebook. The responses were touching, but I feel guilty being commended for being alive. Often times I've been asked by people "how do you live with HIV, how do you go on?"   I always sarcastically answered in my head: "well what's the alternative?"  My usual answer is: "I just do what my doctor tells me." To the many friends on Facebook who shared my "outing", well thanks for thinking about me, I am and always have been very embarrassed about my HIV status because I made a mistake......but hey I was a teenager. Secondly thanks for being friends and some you know a little more about me than I planned to share, but you're my friends and it shouldn't matter.