Verdict-Guilty:Trial By Community

First dates are always exciting, I enjoy getting to know a new person and have always found it a thrill. I recently asked a guy out to dinner, a really intelligent, accomplished guy, good looking and great smile! I live in a small city where in the LGBTQ community almost everybody knows everybody else or someone else who does.

On the way to dinner the conversation starts as most do, a little timid, a little nervous, small talk. Feeling each other out verbally. Maybe five minutes into the conversation he told me he was HIV positive, how long he has been positive, his viral load and that he knew who had transmitted it to him (not by name), and where he lived at the time. During this part of the conversation all I am thinking is “this is none of my business”. I’m not even sure how we got on this topic.I didn’t ask him and never would. Certainly not how he acquired the virus; definitely none of my business, not on a first date, not if we were married for the last twenty years is it my business!

He felt guilty on a subconscious level at least and as though he had to defend himself against something that neither he, nor I, or anyone else should have to defend themselves, a virus that he had been exposed to, that ANYONE could be exposed to given the right circumstances. What is far worse is the stigma attached to HIV. What’s worse than the stigma is the fact that it’s often attached by our own. This same guilty verdict is attached to those of us in the LGBTQ community that avail ourselves of the latest bio-medical protection of PrEP. This is very real to me, I’m a very vocal PrEP warrior in our community and have been taking Truvada for ten months now. Don’t think I haven’t heard the remarks made about me just within earshot, “that’s one of the Truvada whores” and it hurt at first but I have gotten past it.

I’m not innocent, I’m not guilty either!  I am proud of who I am and what I chose to do with my partner is nobody’s business but mine period. I am looking forward to another date with this sexy, intelligent, accomplished guy with the great smile.

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