This article by David Duran first appeared on TheBody.com here.
I wanted to write this, not only because I still struggle with the right words to use each time I disclose, but also for others to read and understand the thought process someone has when disclosing his HIV status. Hopefully it will help others with their own, personal disclosure, either through inspiration or by simply being a link that is shared with others to help start the conversation.
So there's something I want to discuss with you before we take whatever this is to the next level. I wanted to bring it up right away, but I thought I would first see where this is going. It's not an easy topic to bring up, but here goes. I'm HIV-positive. I'm healthy, on medication and have been undetectable for years. It's not a huge deal to me, but I fully understand that it may be to you. Or maybe you already know all you need to know about HIV, and you are up to date on information. I don't know what you are thinking at this moment after reading this, but here's how I'm feeling.
Right now, I'm feeling a sense of relief. Disclosing is obviously not an easy task, especially when it comes to something as stigmatized as HIV. I'm feeling relief because I told you what I needed to tell you and on my own accord. If you had asked me, I would have told you, but it would have been a lot more difficult because I am not yet programmed to verbalize my carefully thought out monologue about my positive status. But now that a sense of relief has kicked in, I'm also beginning to feel anxiety and fear.
I'm asking myself, "What if this news is a deal breaker?" I mean, it very well could be. And just so you know, if it is, I'm not going to be upset because you wouldn't be the first person to reject me because of my status. But if you are going to reject me, I'd like to know exactly why. Because if it's due to a lack of knowledge and information about the topic, then I'm more than willing to share what I know, which happens to be a lot.
You know, when I first was diagnosed, I had my moments of darkness when all I wanted to do was grieve and forget about the rest of my life. I think I deserved that time, as I needed to put myself back together after my world came to a halt. But when I was ready, I took the time to become somewhat of an expert on this virus that is going to be a part of my life for the foreseeable future. I realized that knowing everything there is to know about HIV ... and more was to my benefit, not only because some of what I learned is vital to me staying healthy and alive, but because the more I knew, the more empowered I felt.
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About the author: David Duran is a freelance journalist and writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow him on Twitter at @mrdavidduran.