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Positive Reinforcement


So I guess my story should begin like a lot of other young gay Black men, but it doesn’t. I didn’t grow up with a hard life, nor was I raped or abused. I was brought up with a strong Christian foundation, and very strict parents. Higher education was expected and wasn’t an option in my home. I don’t have the testimony that my parents shunned me or kicked me out because I was gay. I also can't say that HIV was taboo in my household; it was something that my family discussed right along with condoms, especially when I came out at the tender age of 14.

But as I sit at my desk, and give you a little of who I am, I sit here as an HIV-positive, Black, gay man who has a good moral foundation, but still ended up a statistic. I don't define myself by my serostatus but I wear it as a badge of awareness and life. Although my family talked about how to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS, the one thing that I was never told was that it could happen to me, and that I wasn’t immune to HIV.

I know it seems like common sense, especially with me being book smart and so responsible, but it wasn't. I know it sounds like ranting and raving, but I don't feel like it's said enough, I'm 23, sexy, healthy, and living with HIV. I feel like I was only existing before I was diagnosed as being HIV-positive, and today I have something to fight for. HIV gave me something to live for and it’s something that is bigger than me.

Today I will gladly be the face of HIV to show young men that it does exist. It's not just in West Hollywood, it's in the ghettos, it's in the projects, it's in the church, and, unless someone stands up, it will keep spreading from generation to generation. Stop acting like it's not here, and let's do something about it.

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