All Grown Up With HIV
by Cristina González
Angelikah Demonikah, 27, Minneapolis, Behaviorally Infected
Open and direct about her diagnosis, Angelikah is moving forward. While pursuing her college degree and navigating social and romantic relationships, Angelikah is resolute about how she will live her life.
I found out I was positive July 29, 2008. When I contracted HIV, I was drinking and using drugs. I made a stupid mistake with someone I didn’t really know, and it came back to bite me. I tested for HIV when I was in [therapy and drug] treatment a few months later. Seven days after I got out of treatment the health department came to my door and told me I was positive. Two years later I found out that the person I contracted it from knew he had it and didn’t bother telling me or using a condom. Though I am angry about this, I accept personal responsibility. You never know what someone has, and it is up to you to protect yourself and make smart decisions.
After I found out, I relapsed and spent the next year getting high to avoid dealing with it. Then one day I realized that being HIV positive was a reason to take care of myself, not to self-destruct, so I sobered up. Since then, I have been doing better than ever.
Ever since the day I found out, I have been completely open with everyone—friends and family. The day I told my dad, that was the hardest. I just didn’t want him to worry about me. But he took it as well as he could, and everyone has been incredibly supportive.
I did have access to therapy—I’ve been diagnosed bipolar for about 13 years so I stay in therapy and take mood stabilizers to keep the symptoms in check. It helped me become active, prompting me to speak out online and on TV. So basically I’ve been not just open but public.
The biggest obstacle of living with HIV, so far, has actually been dating. Though I haven’t really had anyone reject me based on my status, there are extra complications. I am a lot more selective about who I date, for example. I have to feel I can trust someone to understand, so in a sense it weeds out the people who aren’t worthwhile. And while some people accept it and are OK with my status, I know—because I am so public—that anyone dating me has to really consider whether they are comfortable with their family and friends criticizing them for dating someone who is positive. Finally, there is a lot more conversation around sex, which is probably a good thing.
I do feel stigmatized, singled out. I believe anyone who is openly positive will be, but the more of us who are out there speaking out the less this will happen. I can honestly say, though, that while I can count my bad experiences on one hand, there is no way I could ever tally up how much love, support and understanding I have received. And ultimately, people have surprised me. I find that people are a lot more open-minded than I originally anticipated.
I feel it is important for people, especially young women and heterosexuals, to start talking about HIV. There is still too much misconception about it being a gay disease or something that only happens in Africa. People need to know HIV does not discriminate. All it takes is one decision. I know that.
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Search: Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New York, Indianapolis, National Survey of Family Growth, abstinence, sex education, Perinatally Infected, iChoose2live, LGBT, Red Cross
Scroll down to comment on this story.
comments 1 - 11 (of 11 total)
AquaScriptLess, Michigan, 2012-03-06 21:16:17
What an eye-opener that other people have the same story as me. I relate more with the 1st story. I also grew up HIV and just like his grandmother, my dad was overprotective, sheltered and taught me disclosing was bad. Here I am today 26 yrs old and still I'm insecure, scared, closed off and scared to step out of my shell. It's a 50/50 chance that a kid will grow up OK with traditional parents. There should also be education 2 parents as well, it needs 2 start there before kids can get educated.
barb, seattle, 2011-11-08 12:20:15
poz 33 years in january. as my daughter did for 20 years..EAT LIFE! I'm Inspired and thanks for coming out and taking up the banner. God Bless Ya, Barb
Carrie, south bend, IN, 2011-10-02 23:47:54
I LOVE THIS STORY! the whole first part of him growing up sounds JUST like me. i was also born with hiv. i have been living with it for 23 years now. i also did not know i had hiv as a child. and when i found out i wasnt actually "told" i heard a doctor say it and i looked at my mom and said what???? and she looked at me with such fear. and i was NEVER talked about it ever.i was horrible as a teen.me at 23 im still not okay with my status but im trying to become at peace everyday.
want2changetheworld, Cleveland, 2011-09-26 10:23:45
I love the articles. Its exactly what we need in order to prevent and spread the word not the disease. I was recently diagnosed and I'm proud to say it has not turned my heart cold or made me bitter. I don't want to hurt anyone else I want to protect and by me seeing a lot of bad people who have become bitter and passing the disease around I truley thank God that that is not me. I would love to be apart of POZ magazine. Maybe even POZ TV
Anusha Alikhan, , 2011-09-12 12:33:28
I recently blogged about this article on Conversations for a Better world, a youth community for raising global issues and finding solutions, sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund-
We would love to have more young people join and share their opinions towards building a better world together.
Bautlwatsi Gaeelwe, Gaborone, 2011-09-09 04:04:07
A lot has changed in my life recently,tesed HIV positive in January this year and from there onwards been living positively.now looking lovely than before even though im not on any medication.
Robert T. Jenkins, South Suburban Chicago, 2011-08-19 19:01:36
So much has gone on in the past 10 years. That is how long I have been HIV positive. Right now, I am a 40-year-old Black, gay, male living in one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the U.S. So much of the ignorance that was a big part of life during my teenage years is still a part of life today. I am very glad to read this article and see that there are young people attempting to pull us out of the dark ages of ignorance--I commend the writer and those written about.
lukubaga.denis, kampala, 2011-08-19 13:24:50
wawu its a very good support to those with HIV POSITIVE we thank you Rena for that ,but the advise i have is to leave health and positive leaving,I love. you all of you
justin ligreci, NYC, 2011-08-18 10:00:48
KUDOS to the young men and women snapshot-ted in this story. And also to Cristina González, for writing the piece.
Young, positive people have such extraordinary challenges to overcome it's a testament to how far we've come and how much further we still have to go.
Gary K., Brooklyn, 2011-08-18 08:56:08
David your courage and perseverance will pay off. You are a remarkable young man and am proud to have you in my (LGBT)chosen family. You have brought joy and intellectual conversation to us all.
Frederick Wright, southern California, 2011-08-16 14:51:46
comments 1 - 11 (of 11 total)
Yes, thank God, what a strong and courage young man and very handsome too. I am always so thankful to God when I hear a story of a such power in a person life to over come the trama of our sociaity in his truthful expereinces for truth I believe always overcomes the haters. Stay strong Layfette, be joyful, live, love and yes.. have some great sex too... for a Cure is on it's way and my GOD make it so.