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If left untreated, the virus would continue reducing my number of T cells, which fight infection. I thought being HIV-positive meant that my life was over.
The doctor prescribed a pill that I would take daily to suppress the virus, but it was incurable. I knew next to nothing about HIV (I thought my diagnosis meant I had AIDS—it didn’t.
“I have HIV.” He was silent for a moment, which felt like forever.
Then, the first thing he asked was how I was taking care of myself.
Though I feared the conversation would be the end of whatever we had together, I knew I had to tell him my HIV story before it went any further. I was only 22 when I felt my lymph nodes start swelling.
It was painful, and one of them was so big, I could see it protruding from my neck.
He asked how it would work if we started dating, since he was HIV negative.
For some, the realization that I was HIV-positive was too much, and they didn’t want to continue dating me because it seemed too complicated or too risky. For others, though, they asked questions about how we could continue our relationship without spreading HIV to them (my answer was simple: protected sex.) A few men realized I was worth sticking around for, and we always made sure to be extremely careful.I started by walking in my first AIDS walk, and after that I started working with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and sharing my story publicly in news segments and in newspapers.I even started planning a gala for HIV awareness, and just a few weeks before it, Jordan messaged me again.When I reconnected with Jordan, an old friend, I was excited.He was a nice guy with a good heart, and over our phone conversations, he always kept me laughing.