All Grown Up With HIV
by Cristina González
David Goode, 24, Brooklyn, Behaviorally Infected
On his own since the age of 13 and still trying to make sense of his diagnosis and when and how to seek treatment, David is slowly carving out his life. While working part-time jobs and making ends meet with the help of government housing programs, he is taking it one day at a time.
I got HIV when I was 19 through unprotected sex with someone I met on the A train. Crazy, right? I was single and having fun and struck up a conversation. It happens. Except this time, for me, it was different.
Fast forward a few months later. I’m sick, I’ve lost 40 pounds, I’m hospitalized. The doctor took one look at me and tested me. I got a call from the doctor while I was at work. I was positive.
In that moment, that second, I became the hateful stereotype my family always believed. When I had run away [six years earlier] I thought I was going to prove my family wrong, show them my life was going to be OK. And now…I’ve let myself down. I’m ashamed and guilty.
I came out when I was 13. Thirteen. My first time had been at the age of 11, with a classmate. A boy. Two years later, after I came out, my Christian family excommunicated me. I’ve been on my own ever since.
Until I was 17, sex was the way to survive. I jumped around from friends to friends eventually attaching myself to a man 10 years older than me. I hung out with heroin addicts, I had unprotected sex, I engaged in prostitution.
During that time, I had no support to keep me safe—except the LGBT Center. I started volunteering and getting tested every six months. [But I was still having sex,] and the sex wasn’t always so safe. I just depended on someone else to have a condom. And they usually didn’t.
I’m not on treatment, and I haven’t seen a doctor. To think I have full access to treatment, a single gay male, and other people can’t. A mother with children in Zimbabwe can’t. I feel guilty.
Some days I feel like a leper, an untouchable. I feel different. People are out of touch with people who have HIV because positive people don’t stand up, they have no voice. And the government and prevention programs, they instill fear instead of spreading awareness.
If I had met someone my age who was also positive, it might have changed things a little bit. I might have played it safe, protected myself. It would have been more real to me. Now I know, this is real. We’re getting it, it’s still around. So we have to protect ourselves and others. Respect yourself and others. Don’t be that person who gave it to you.
Everyone probably knows someone who is HIV positive, and it would help us if [positive people were more open about their status]. That way when senators or someone had to decide on cutting back on funding, they would know someone it would hurt. [If more people were open about their status,] it would help with the stigma—it wouldn’t be someone dirty from the street they don’t know; it would be their brother or sister or neighbor.
We can end stigma, and we can end AIDS. We have to stand up at once.
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.