Rob Ordonez
Rob Ordonez
New York, New York
Positive since 1996    

I became HIV positive in 1996—back then they gave you five years tops to live, so I ran away from my home in Texas. I decided to travel and do the things that I dreamed of doing and enjoy my last years. I went to San Francisco, then Chicago and then New York City. I knew I wanted to live in New York City but heard that San Francisco was so gay and lots of HIV-positive men lived there.

It was so hard in the beginning. I moved to New York City when I was 25 years old. I didn’t know anyone; I was alone in the world. I started going out to the clubs—dancing, drinking and hooking up. Luckily one of those hook ups was an angel and told me about GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis).

In the beginning I was against taking medications because I heard they were like poison, but the staff at GMHC opened my eyes and I started treatment. It was so frustrating because I was resistant or allergic to most of the medications, but after a few months my doctor found the right medication for me.

I’m a gay, healthy, HIV-positive man living my dream in New York City. It took a long time to get where I am, but I’m happy and live my life to the fullest. HIV treatments are getting better and I dream of a cure! I don’t wish HIV for anyone, so I always disclose my status when meeting a new date—it is important to be honest.

What three adjectives best describe you?
Honest—If you are true to yourself, you’ll be true to the world. Giving—I’m lucky to be healthy so I give back with charity once a month making sandwiches for the homeless. Unstoppable—I’m a dreamer and an artist.

What is your greatest achievement?
To have met great people and friends that care for me. Believing in my art and having several shows and publications.

What is your greatest regret?
When I ran away from home I stole money from my family. I was young and afraid—luckily they forgave me.

What keeps you up at night?
Not having a relationship. I’m a romantic and need love in my life.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
The side effects from the medications and the way they affect your body.

What is the best advice you ever received?
To go see the doctor at GMHC

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Jack Mackenroth, because he is a designer from Project Runway that came out about his HIV on TV and is a leader in the community.

What drives you to do what you do?
I love life! Having goals and dreams keep me alive. It is important to never give up.

What is your motto?
Follow your heart, as an artist to keep doing your thing. Do not care about what people will say, if you love what you do you are free!

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My computer, because my work is on it and I would not want to start all over again

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
I would be a DOG. They are loving creatures that don’t expect anything in return—just love.

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