In part 1 we discovered how it feels to find out you’re HIV positive. Now for the hard part, telling the people who might have been exposed.
The next night I sat across from Josh in his kitchen. We discussed the night we met, how we thought this would or wouldn’t affect our lives, disclosing to friends, family, and future partners. I couldn’t help but think about his bedroom a few feet away, that night, the condom that was a little too tight. This was the scene of the crime!
You might picture a scene where I fall to my knees begging for forgiveness and pledging eternal servitude for my wrongdoing, but Josh would hardly allow me to even apologise. At a time when I could have been comforting him, I was the one being uplifted and encouraged.
Unlike Josh, I didn’t decide to fully disclose my status. Though my parents have always been, and would be, 100% supportive, I felt that they would only fear for my wellbeing. I have yet to tell them. I work in a hyper-hetero and hyper-masculine industry and do well enough just being out of the closet. I felt it was in my best interest to keep quiet at work as well.
Unfortunately, disclosure, for me, wasn’t just about letting folks know. There were people that needed to know because they needed to be tested—this would be the hardest part of my transition into “Poz-life”.
I notified a very recent sexual partner and, despite our having had safe-sex, he was very concerned. He went immediately to the emergency room and received treatment with PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). He is HIV negative.
When I told my friend, he sat quietly and held my hand. He rubbed my thumb and told me it would be ok. It killed me to remind him of that drunken night a few months before. He is fortunately HIV negative.
When I called a guy from out of town, he broke down on the phone. I tried to contact his local suicide prevention agency when he tested positive. Not only was his world changed forever, but he’d also cheated on his partner with me. His, now, ex is HIV negative and I’m happy to report that he is doing much better.
So far, I’ve told my sister, my closest friends, and anyone I’ve had, or planned, to have sex with. A tip to anyone newly positive, don’t wait until third base to disclose your HIV status.
I’m ok with my level of disclosure for the time being. Even being closeted, as it were, I have plenty of opportunity to support those that are questioning their status or are newly HIV-positive. More than once, I’ve held someone’s hand during that unnerving 30 minutes between the HIV mouth swab and the result. I’m happy that I can be there, no matter what the result.
For part 1 of the story click here
This post has been adapted courtesy of ImStillJosh.com.
We’ve produced this post with our friends at MTV Voices—helping you make your voice heard. See the post here.