HIV = Hope Is Vital

Life with HIV: Putting the pieces together. Social psychological and communication perspectives, personal narratives, and discussions of popular discourse surrounding HIV. Offering hope and information for persons living with HIV, researchers and academics, and the general public.

A million brains are better than one. Promoting collective research.

Rejection

Rejection Day

One of the things I knew going into life with HIV was that I would probably experience rejection because of the disease, probably from someone I cared about, and maybe from someone I loved.  I prepared myself mentally for it and I told myself that when it happens I should be understanding.  I told myself that this, David, will now be a part of your life, for better or worse.  Just know that it will happen and when you finally get over it, make sure your heart is still open.

Well, that day has come.  The rejection is indeed from someone I care about and love, and as much as I prepared myself for it, as strong as I thought I was, the pain is more real than I ever thought it would be.  It has truly made me go deep into my reservoir of self-love and fortitude.  Preparation, I suppose, is only effective when you know what you are preparing yourself for.  I wasn't prepared for this. Understanding, I realize now, doesn't mean that it will hurt any less.  Because understanding is a function of the mind, the pain from rejection is a function of the heart.  When it comes to heartbreak the mind can only do so much.


Michael

I met this guy when I was waiting for the train.  We'll call him Michael.  Michael came up to me and complimented me on my leather jacket.  He was charming, had a great smile, and I could tell he was incredibly nervous.  He had a friend with him that he told me later was standing next to him just in case I was straight and punched him for making advances at me.  But Michael thought, what the heck, this is San Francisco and there was probably a good chance I was gay, bi, or queer.

Turns out he was correct and we hit it off right away.  I kept thinking to myself that this guy that was talking to me looked like a model (turns out he was one in his home country).  He told me later that he could barely stand up because I looked exactly like the fantasy in his head of what his future husband would look like.  I could see his hands shaking when he was talking to me.  I suddenly couldn't put sentences together anymore and my vocabulary reverted to the 3rd grade. I couldn't come up with a witty retort to save my life.  He kept asking me questions he already asked me over and over again, and then got adorably embarrassed that he had asked that question already over and over again.  The weak in the knees, hardly speak, thing, was totally happening on both ends.  Our nerves were palpable, but the chemistry was too, and we followed each other to The Castro where we both were headed. 

We had a great time together, walked down the street together, and as guys were making advances at him throughout the night, he would say "No, I want only him!" pointing to me.  As guys would make advances to me, he would say, "No, he's taken!"  I thought it was such a refreshing direct expression of his feelings for me.  We kissed for the first time as a reaction to one of these advances.  I guess it was an easier way to get the point across.  From then on, we held hands and acted very much like a couple in lust.

There's lots more to the story. Part 2 coming soon!

Hep B: Some (Not Really) Fun Facts

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and death. It's a strange virus in that the actual course of the liver disease with Hep B is largely not predictable, and stranger still is that most people "clear" the disease on their own through mechanisms largely unknown and do not ever have any complications or ever need treatment from the infection.  There are 350 million chronic carriers of the disease, out of about 2 billion that have been infected. Most adults (95%) "clear" the disease, 30% of younger children also do, but only about 5% of newborns do.

Some people who clear the disease have the virus reactivate, which is what my doctor's believe has happened with me. My father is a chronic carrier, and there's a likelihood I contracted the virus at a young age due to sharing household items that transmit bodily fluid. It's also possible I was exposed when I contracted HIV; but I did test negative for Hep B when I tested positive for HIV. Only in the last couple months has my antigen test come back showing the presence of HBV again, and seeing as how I've been abstinent for the last 18 months ago (not by choice, but that's another post..lol), my doctor's and I believe that it is in fact a case of reactivation due to a compromised immune system. There is some liver damage already, which leads us to believe that the virus is active.

Hep B & HIV

Coinfection with Hepatitis and HIV is a very serious condition (as if either one alone weren't serious enough) and I just discovered recently that my previously latent Hepatitis B infection has been reactivated. This news was shocking and painful; not only because of the potential implications (Hep B is one of the leading killers of HIV-positive folks), but also because of what it says about the relationship that I have with this disease and my body.

Just when I thought my pain from disease had come to a manageable tableau, I have been shaken from within with a fear of the unknown and of future experiences taken away from me. This is my new challenge and I accept it. And this time I will let myself cry because I remember before that tears aren't a sign of weakness, rather it's a sign of vulnerability. And vulnerability opens your heart for the strength that you need.

The Day I Told My Mom

My mom is in town visiting from Southern California and I'm really excited to have her here and it's especially wonderful to be able to spend time with her knowing that she knows about my HIV status and knowing that our relationship is strong. In fact, I believe that my disclosure has made us much closer and looking back on my road with HIV I can honestly say that the day I told my parents was the day that the true healing really began.

Never Say Never

When I had first contracted the virus and I met with a counselor at one of the AIDS service organizations in San Francisco, I remember the counselor asking me if I had told my parents and my response was "No, never. I can never do that." She looked at me, looked down and wrote something down on her notepad, looked back up at me and asked, "Never?"

Thank You Betsy & Kenny

I wanted to express my sincere appreciation to Betsy and Kenny who left me wonderful and heartwarming comments on some recent posts. I haven't been able to update my blog the last month because I've been fighting a nasty nasty flu that my body just can't seem to shake. I also lost my job because I had to miss too much work, which meant I couldn't afford the out-of-pocket expenses to see my doctor anymore. On top of that my landlord's not being too nice about the rent situation. It's pretty amazing how the combination of having no insurance and having HIV can truly devastate ones finances and subsequently ones health.

But don't cry for me Argentina! I'm feeling much better and I'm looking forward to getting back the energy to write regularly. I also just landed a job (with INSURANCE!) working on AIDS research and I couldn't be happier. I guess coughing up a lung during my interview wasn't as bad as I thought! I've always believed that everything happens for a reason, and I have to believe that the challenges of the last month will only lead to brighter and beautiful things.