Stories Of Promise - It Helps to Talk to Someone
My name is Angel, and I’m a 48-year old Hispanic guy living in South Florida,
and I’m also living with HIV. I found out about my status after taking an HIV test when I was in prison. I knew I was risky because I’ve been with a lot of women, some guys too, and I didn’t always use condoms. So, I wasn’t completely surprised, but I still felt depressed when they told me I had HIV - I thought my life was over! I didn’t
want people to know I was HIV positive or think I had HIV, so I didn’t tell anyone, not even my family, and I refused to take HIV meds for a long time for fear that people would find out. Eventually, I got real sick though and was in so much pain with shingles straight down my spine that I had to start the meds to feel better. It wasn’t until I ended up in an Assisted Living Treatment program with others also living with HIV that I began openly talking about my HIV status. Feeling that support has been good and I no longer feel alone in this. It gave me the opportunity to practice sharing my status with my family - I’d wanted to tell them for a long time, but I anticipated they would treat me like an outcast when they found out.
So years and years later, I finally sat down with my sister and my girl and told them I was HIV positive. They were like, “Oh, we already know.”
I was like, “What?!” My sister said, “Do you think we’re stupid? We see you taking those pills you keep in the refrigerator.” I was relieved! And the whole time they
knew, they never made me feel any different; my family em-braces and loves me just as I am. It really helps to talk to someone about your HIV - otherwise, it’s like a massive boulder holding you down. A huge weight was lifted once I talked about my HIV status, and I’m proud of myself for taking this first step.