What if… I didn’t have those extra drinks that night at the bar?
What if… I didn’t decide to go home with a cutie from the club?
What if… I didn’t allow myself, even briefly, to have unprotected sex?
What if… I didn’t get sick, which ultimately led me to my diagnosis?
What if… I didn’t know today that I was HIV-positive?
What if… I had sex again, and again, and again not knowing that I was exposing the next “hottie” that was trusting me when I said ‘I’m d/d free”?
What would my story be then?
Although a simple “what if” — I have found myself day-dreaming about the possibility that any of these things could be my story. And wondering where that would put me today?
So where am I today?
I am educated about HIV. I am concerned about my health. I am advocating for the decrease in stigma for other HIV-infected individuals. I am proud. I am scared. I am surrounded by amazing life-long friends and newly acquired supporters. I am in love. I’m still me, though.
Becoming HIV-positive isn’t really my story. My story is evolving. And although a few have questioned my intentions– I remain dedicated to two important goals: 1) decreasing stigma surround HIV so others don’t feel as alone as I felt & 2) continuing the dialogue of prevention in my hometown of Nashville.
Do I want to be famous for it? Nope. Do I care that everyone knows “my business”? Not really. Do I have a true heart for the men in my city to feel comfortable if they are HIV-positive? Absolutely.
This … right here is my story. And like all the great SAVED BY THE BELL episodes– it’s To Be Continued.
I’m still Josh. You still be YOU!!!