This is by far the most important, scary, liberating post of my life. Here we go — 10 years ago, at a young, young age of 20, I was diagnosed with HIV.
I’ll never forget the moment they told me. It wasn’t possible — I had only slept with three people in my life! This can’t be true.
The first words out of my mouth were, “How long do I have to live?”
That’s how uneducated I was about. it. It had been drilled in my head that gay people get HIV because of wrong-doings and they deservingly die from it. Well, I’m here to shut that shit down.
There is nothing wrong with me, and I am healthier than I’ve ever been. In the last 10 years, I’ve met countless of HIV-positive men. Some of these men are so affected by the stigma that they don’t tell a soul about their status, even go as far as not taking their medication.
In our extremely privileged community, the stigma is more dangerous than the disease. We still have a lot of fighting to do for the people who don’t have the privilege of cost-effective medication.
So I stand on the shoulders of people like @staleypr, who risked his life for us. I stand on the shoulders of the millions of people who had to suffer and die from this disease. I stand on the shoulders of the gay men who were forced out of the closet in such a scary time. These men and women fought and died to get to where we’re at now: To take a pill at night and never have to worry about dying. To get the disease to a point where it is impossible to transmit (undetectable).
How can I be ashamed of this? I honor their legacy by telling my story. So let’s talk about it. Let’s ask questions. Take your PrEP. Use condoms. Be safe. Let’s end this stigma forever and eventually end HIV forever!
To those who have questions: Don’t feel dumb asking anything about it. It’s not your fault there’s such a lack of education out there.
To those who are afraid to talk about their status: You’ve got at least one guy right here 🙂 You are loved. You are beautiful, and there is nothing wrong with you.
I, Hernando Umana, am a proud gay man LIVING with HIV. Fuck, that feels good to say.