Tell me part of your story of living with HIV?

I found out I was living with HIV in 2009 when I turned 18. It turns out, I had it since birth but that was never told to me by my adoptive parents. When I actually went to the doctor on my own, by myself, he was like, “Are you aware that you’re HIV positive?” No, I wasn’t aware – but I was educated about it in general.

It was a unique situation, a kind of detour on life’s highway. However, when I discovered my status, I was already well-informed about it, which was reassuring. This knowledge was particularly valuable considering my work in the medical field, specifically in nursing. I had anticipated the possibility of facing such a situation due to my past lifestyle choices. When it happened, I was okay with it and what do do, how to navigate the challenges.

Dealing with medications was a struggle for me initially. I wasn’t accustomed to taking such harsh medications. Some of the medications posed risks to organs like the liver. My first medication caused issues with my liver, leading to a hospital stay. Fortunately, they changed the medication, and since then, I’ve been doing well. I’m undetectable, receiving proper care, and I no longer face mental health issues or depression related to my diagnosis. I’ve come to accept that HIV is a part of my life, and I’ve adopted a positive attitude towards it. It’s there, it’s not going anywhere – so deal with it! 

I actively educate others about it, being open and honest about my status. My goal is to make those who might be going through a similar experience feel comfortable talking to me. Some people might not want to discuss or acknowledge HIV, particularly in the Black community. They’re not open totally. They don’t want to talk about it. 

I consider myself blessed to have it, as it served as a catalyst for positive changes in my life. It was told to me a long time ago that there is going to be something that will slow you down. And it slowed me down – for a lot of good reasons. I was out there hard – you know, I was a pretty boy on the scene. I wanted to sleep with everybody. I’ve become more cautious, protective, and discerning in my relationships, and although it may run some people away, I believe it’s crucial to be upfront about my status. The first thing I mention is hey, I’m HIV+.

I recently moved to Indianapolis; I made HIV care a priority in my decision. I was fortunate to find a location with a better healthcare system and a more supportive environment compared to my previous home. When relocating, I carefully considered HIV care as a key factor. Back where I’m from, the healthcare system is slow and lacks resources. Many individuals with HIV, including youth and the homeless, still struggle due to limited resources. In comparison, the healthcare system here in Indianaoplis is more supportive, and I’ve found a positive and helpful environment here. While housing was already planned out, I took the initiative to make it happen rather than relying on handouts. I recognized the importance of actively pursuing my goals and not just expecting things to fall into place.

What would ending the HIV Epidemic mean to you?

It would mean a whole lot because even though I’m okay with it, I see a lot of other people suffering. That’s the thing that I don’t want to see – people suffering. People do suffer and die from this because because they don’t talk about it enough. Even though we have programs like TransSolutions and Damien Center, there are still thousands of people out there that still do not want to talk about it. There are people who don’t want to get care and they’re suffering out there because they feel like they have nobody to talk to even though they’re there. 

So to end it, it would be amazing. That would end a lot of suffering.

What does U=U mean to you? How does it affect your life?

It kind of means a lot but then at the same token, at this stage of my life I’m not very sexually active so it’s kind of a non-issue.

How long have you been undetectable?

I’ve been undetectable now for 2 years. At one point, the care out was horrible. I lived way out on the outskirts so it was hard for me to get to and from the doctors. I didn’t know they provided transportation. I knew a lot about the HIV part –  but I didn’t know anything about the Medicare and insurance part. I really had to get into doing some education on that.

Is there anything else I should know about you?

I’m a fun, loving person – and very caring.

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