During all these years, I’ve acted irresponsibly at times or taken chances I hadn’t intended. But there has been no further judgment from a blood test. That reckoning was faced long ago.
But you – whether you have been sexually active for a year or a decade – have very likely faced some tough choices and behaved wisely. You keep doing the right thing.
This is your time. The word courageous is for you.
If you don’t define yourself, in large part, by the fact you are HIV negative, start now. It is your accomplishment. It says you are taking care. And it says you are eligible to participate in vaccine trials or mentor someone else trying to remain negative.
There is ongoing research now that is focused on HIV negative men like you. Exciting new studies are investigating drugs to prevent infection after something risky has occurred, while other studies have shown promise for a drug regimen that might block infection before it happens.
And right now there are vaccine trials waiting for men like you to help find the ultimate weapon against HIV. They need volunteers, badly.
This is your time. This research is about you. This call to action is for you.
I can already hear the rumblings on both sides of the viral divide. People are so quick to take offense, so afraid of being misunderstood, of being labeled or blamed or ostracized.
My fellow positive brothers are so bruised by stigma that it can be hard for them to lift you up. They’ve been rejected by you. They don’t like hearing “maybe we should just be friends” and they don’t like seeing “UB2” in your online profile. They might be positive as a result of one heated mistake, or due to sexual assault, or by trusting (or loving) the wrong person — and they deeply resent feeling judged.
Maybe they think your negative status is the result of pure luck, or that you don’t like anal intercourse, or you’re lying.
Meanwhile, your sacrifices go unrecognized. You’ve seen some positive friends take early disability, hang out at the gym and get help with the rent. They receive so much support and empathy that it must feel like there isn’t much left for you. Every year we all swarm the streets for the AIDS Walk, and you can’t help but wonder if your parade will ever arrive.
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