So now you know that you got HIV, the ’bug’ or maybe you’ve called it the Monster in your circle. Whatever you call it, you have it so now what?

Before you get to deep into this post I have to warn you that this is not an Oprah moment but a frank reality check that may offend and shock but hopefully wake you to your situation. This isn’t the time to tiptoe.

Now that you’re carrying the disease you now have two choices with your life: you can live or you can die.

For those who choose to die stop reading now and start planning your funeral.

For those who choose life, realize that the pity party is over and you have no one to blame but yourself. I know that may sound harsh but we’re not in the infancy of this disease but it is something that has been here for three decades. Like my mother would say, “you should have known better”.

It’s time to start taking responsibility that you chose to have sex unprotected and yes your partner had the disease but you can’t blame him for giving you the virus. The responsibility also fell on your shoulders when you decided to open your legs or got on your back without a simple piece of latex as a barrier.

You’re not living in a Beyonce video. By putting a ring on it doesn’t make him monogamous. We sometimes get so wrapped up in the package we don’t take time to see what’s in the box. We think we’re that person’s first but you should assume they were infected and not accept the online status where they marked negative or they’ve given the answer you wanted to hear just for a booty call.

Now it’s time to put the blame and accusations away in the cupboard and take accountability for your life and stop telling yourself you don’t want to die from this disease. You’re going to die from something no matter who you are and sometimes when we become infected we spend our living life worried about death that we forget how to live. We allow ourselves to become the walking dead. Focus on the life you have as imperfect as it is. Thank God you’re alive to recognize its imperfect value.

Lift your head and quit telling yourself you deserved it. Stop saying you deserved it because you’re poor or you’re a person of color or you didn’t have a role model. Those are just excuses we build around ourselves to take away the ownership of our actions.

 How can we blame poverty as the cause when most every city in this country has a fishbowl of free condoms sitting on someone desk? If you’re ashamed of getting a free condom just use that same fearfulness you use to have sex with a random stranger to propel you to get over that shame.

Now that you have it know that this is going to mess you up mentally. As strong as we want to be we underestimate the beating down you will experience mentally. You may look in the mirror for sores or weight loss or skin issues, but just know that just knowing you have this disease makes an imprint on your mental psyche. Something you won’t see when you look in the mirror.

 Take ownership of your anger, your denial, and your depression and have them stop leading you. Turn your position around and step in front of them as you should be determining your footsteps. So get the help you need as you’re not on this journey alone.

 And get ready for a storm of stigma and discrimination and a wave of ignorance from people who will never know the shoes you’re walking in. But remember you’re not living your life for them. You’re living your life for you. Stand strong and know you have as much a right to be here as they do. And whatever you do don’t feel like you have to audition for their affection or attention. This especially goes for family. We can easily make new friends, but we can also build a new family if they decide to not accept you for you. This is a new you and if they can’t accept you for who you are, move on. They are the ones losing.

But now that you know, know that you’re not broke. You’re still a whole person with the same soul. You’re still standing so use that stand to define the life you want to live.

But most importantly don’t stop living. The disease doesn’t define who you are; you define how that disease will fit into your life.

Now that you know move whatever is blocking your blessings and press on!