Being a ‘good gay boy’, I was tested every six months for HIV and STIs, which in retrospect seemed quite strange as I was almost your quintessential ’40-year-old virgin.’ After going through the “Grim Reaper” media blitz in the 1980s, I made a pact with myself that I would not have sex until a cure for this disease was found.
As the 1990s passed into the new millennium, I decided that I didn’t want to go to the grave a virgin, so I started visiting sex venues and beats but only practiced ‘safe-sex’. I was having a great old time! After a few short-term relationships, I started to be more and more unconcerned if I practiced safe-sex or not. If I was at a sex venue I still practiced the old-fashioned “rhythm method” of withdrawing in a timely manner. One week I was not quite quick enough with the ‘rhythm’ with two separate guys and true to my nature as the ‘good gay boy’, I went and saw my GP about for the usual rounds of tests.
This particular day I noticed something strange as I sat down with my doctor. Usually, he would always say straight up that the tests came through clear. This particular day my file stayed closed as my doctor spoke about HIV, the medications available and the normal life a person can live with the disease. My response was to ask “are you telling me I am positive?” His response was, “I am sorry to say, yes you are.” My reply was “OH FUCK!”
After the appointment I went back to my office and searched the internet for everything I could find about HIV. I soon realised I knew very little about HIV. I thought I was immune to it. “It won’t happen to me” was my philosophy. I went into some gay chat rooms where I knew guys were Poz, and said I had recently been diagnosed and wanted to ask some questions. Most of the guys were very happy to talk about their experience and for me this was what I needed to hear. For me this was better than reading a brochure, magazine or a program on the TV about HIV. This was from the coal face! Hearing directly from others who lived with HIV helped me come to terms with being positive and get back to a normal life. These complete strangers were so generous about their experience with HIV and I felt very grateful to hear from them. Shortly after, I attended a Genesis workshop, which is a collaboration between Positive Life and ACON. I enjoyed meeting other guys who were in the ‘same boat’.
Today I live my life as if I was still negative, as active as ever in life and love. I work full time in management with a large NSW Government Department. I know I have changed in some ways and these days I am more open to being Poz. I care more about ME, and make time to chill out and spend time with those I love. I also try to give back by volunteering my time at Positive Life where I have made some wonderful friends.
My approach to life is “be positive about being positive”. Becoming HIV positive is not the end of the world, just a speed bump. We only get one chance to live our life – it isn’t a ‘test drive’. Start ticking off those things that have been in your bucket list for years and aim to make your life a well lived one. I believe we need to make the most of what we are on this earth for and I strive for a happy and contented life.
I often think of that line from the musical ‘Mame’ which goes, “Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving.” So get out there and see that the world is still a fabulous place! Never let being Poz rule your life… as I tell people “you rule it, never let it rule you!”