In the weeks prior to Halloween in 1989, I learned of my HIV Pozative status. My first thought was I’m a goner. I will not see Halloween next year! In those early years I never disclosed my status. For me it was like HIV had pushed me back into a closet. I am LUCKY to be highly allergic to AZT and lived thru the 90’s without medication. Fortunately, when I crossed the line into AIDS in 96 I was able to take the new drug cocktails. I became out with my HIV status around this time. Not sure why it simply was a slow progression. The more I lived my life as an open book and the more I became honest with myself and others the healthier I became. I am blessed to have my father’s genetics of youthful looks. I’m over 50 looking like I’m going on 30! This is also a curse for I do not look like I’m living with AIDS. Many times when people learn of my AIDS status I get the reaction or looks that I am lying and sometimes verbally called a liar. Most times the first words out of their mouths is You don’t look like you have AIDS! I have turned this into a Perfect opportunity to open a dialog on HIV/AIDS stigma. For m, I experience HIV/AIDS stigma in subtle way. Subtlety is the most dangerous form much like there is no such thing as subtle racism. Stigma is stigma racism is racism in all forms. I believe medication fuels stigma. MEDICATION IS NOT A CURE!!!!! Don’t get me wrong I am very Grateful for how these meds have allowed me to live a productive life Thus far. However until we find a cure we will never over come stigma. So, how we do this, is one person at a time. Stamping out stigma begins with me. Make this a Great Day

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