I wish I could go back in time and educate myself about HIV transmission. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I didn’t know how much of a risk I was putting myself in regarding HIV. I used to only have sex with people who said they were negative because I trusted that they knew their status. I never had sex with anyone who said they were undetectable because I thought that I could still get the virus from them. I didn’t realize that the people who said they were HIV negative but didn’t actually know their status, were more of a threat. So, since I thought they were HIV negative, I never used or asked a lover to use a condom during sex.
I was stunned to find out I had contracted the virus after a routine HIV test. Everything I knew about HIV and its transmission was wrong. It was then that I realized that if I wanted to change my life for the better, I had to start immediately. I needed to work on myself.
I needed to learn about the virus, its transmission, and my treatment options. I knew that if I wanted to take care of my health and use condoms, I needed to gain confidence. I had my mother drive me straight to a residential treatment facility. I was able to get straight into care and on an anti-retroviral treatment plan. I’m working hard in my group therapy sessions. I’m learning how to advocate for myself and how not to depend on other people, especially a partner. I’m actually dating someone right now while in care and we always use condoms. I have the knowledge and the confidence to use condoms every time, to protect myself and others. I now know that it is possible for me to love myself and love someone else without compromising my well-being.