Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird chronicles lawyer Atticus Finch’s defense of a wrongfully-convicted Black man in Depression Era Alabama. Adored for his courage and integrity, Atticus has since become one of the most iconic literary heroes of the 20th century. This has been one of my favorite books and films since childhood. It taught me a lot and helped me form many of my values and how I looked at the world. What does Atticus Finch have to do with U=U? Valid question, give me a chance to explain.
My ex and I were together almost eight years and for the first 14 months, he harbored a secret. He was living with HIV. We had unprotected sex on several occasions, with increasing frequency the longer we were together. What amazes most people I have shared this with is that I never point blank asked him his status. It was my thought that if he had anything of importance to share he would. One night before going to bed he sat me down and told me had something to tell me. I could see the fear in his eyes. After breaking the news he told me had been afraid to tell me. I was angry, hurt, and afraid. This was in 2001 and I had an almost irrational fear of HIV since 1981. I was in shock and the panic set in. I stormed out of our house and didn’t return for two days.
I stayed with my mom who endured my panic attacks and anger without knowing what I was panicked and angry about. The second night we were watching TV and she was flipping channels until she stopped on TCM and they were showing To Kill a Mockingbird. The scene between Scout and Atticus came up on the screen when Atticus told her “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
At that moment I realized how hard it must have been for him to tell me. We reconciled and were together for another 7 years after this incident. He went with me repeatedly to have myself tested, I was negative. I absolutely believe that it was because he was undetectable and he could not transmit the virus (U=U). I realize that some reading this won’t believe it, but he was undetectable and I admit that I can’t offer any proof to my belief in my particular case. But I can say he is alive and well and last I heard living in the Houston area. I have no doubt that if you stay adherent to the meds prescribed and reach an undetectable viral load you are unable to transmit the virus, this is not an opinion, this is a scientific fact. Scream it from the rooftops U=U! And when you take a break from promoting U=U read Harper Lee’s book To Kill a mockingbird or watch the film.