For auld lang syne: a letter to HIV-negative me

Published 24, Jan, 2018
Author // Isaac D. Joseph

Isaac D. Joseph addresses his former, HIV-negative self: "My beautiful black sheep, be unapologetically proud of who you are..."

For auld lang syne: a letter to HIV-negative me

It has been five years since that day you were attacked and raped and as a result of that rape you were transmitted the HIV virus. On the day you find out that you are HIV-positive you are instantly thrown into a whirlwind of psychological and biological warfare mixed with 24 years of emotional baggage that we should have let go years ago, but nothing fuels a grudge better than anger.

Right now you’re probably somewhere in a hotel room, getting high as a Georgia pine, listening to Erykah Badu and trying to make sense of life. But since life for you currently is not as pleasant as you’d like, instead you dive nose first into a powdered confection whose only purpose is to make you feel numb. Soon that numbness will no longer be effective because now the emotions that you were trying to mask are becoming real to you, more real than you can possibly imagine yet. So real that you will try to take your life not one, or two, but six times and unlike so many, you will survive each attempt.

Now some would call it luck, but I call it divine intervention. See, I have never told anyone this before, but when I was 20 years old I had a dream. In my dream I was 25 years old, lying in a hospital bed, being told that I was HIV-positive. I remember crying all through the night, stuck in this dream and then finally I heard a voice say to me, “You shall not die here, for this will not be your end but this will be your beginning.” I awakened in tears, not sure if the dream was real or not. I just knew that did not want to be HIV positive. No one does and that is ok.

But sometimes shit happens and we fuck up

Now here we are: HIV-positive and there is no manual to really instruct you in coping with the fact that you are HIV-positive. That’s why so many of us crack under the pressure, but not you. It’s natural for you wonder if today is going to be your last. Your feelings of hopelessness and despair are all okay but if you don’t figure it out now your life will remain in this state of hopelessness and despair for almost ten years. Engulfed by darkness, cloaked with the illusion of shadows pretending to be happy and having it all together, but on the inside, you are slowly dying.

But do not fear

God has a plan and purpose for you to fulfill, a purpose so important that you could literally transform the minds of millions of people. HIV is not your story, but only a piece. A piece so significant that it had to happen in order you to become the person you are today. We grew up in a world that did accept or tolerate who we are as people. They did not understand who we are, but soon they will.

So forget about all the times that you were called a fag, a punk, or referred to as a curse upon the family. Forget about the times you were told that being gay was a sin and that HIV is a curse God uses to punish the socially immoral.

My beautiful black sheep, be unapologetically proud of who you are, because you are beautiful and you are loved. Show the world that living with HIV is more than just about battling a virus or disease. That we are people who deserve to treated fairly, with love, kindness, and respect.

Let people know, especially the millennials who are living with HIV, that their journey is not over but has only just begun.

Let people know that they can overcome anything because we are all fighters, crusaders, and survivors. We are all positive people because we all try to live positively. We are humans who are Happy, Incandescent, and Victorious.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind should old acquaintance be forgot
for days of auld lang syne. For days of auld lang syne my dear, for days of auld lang syne”

About the Author

Isaac D. Joseph

Isaac D. Joseph

Isaac D. Joseph is an HIV/AIDS activist, advocate, and author. He is also a person living with HIV/AIDS. In 2014 he was diagnosed with AIDS after finding that his CD4 had dropped down to 94. For three long months, he fought against the virus and is happy to say that he not only achieved an HIV diagnosis but he is also undetectable as of 2015.

He is the owner/operator of the organization ProjectRED in which he empowers people living with HIV/AIDS to speak their truth and be proud of who they are by coming out the HIV closet and being more transparent about their lives and living with HIV/AIDS. Through ProjectRED he also hopes to dismantle the stigma and discrimination that surrounds HIV/AIDS and people living with HIV/AIDS by raising awareness through his #FacebookLive and youtube series #SpillingtheTaboutHIV and releasing publications such as The Epidemic: Living with HIV in the 21st Century (Available on Amazon) and many more to come.