Relationships are never easy and always involve compromise on both sides. But for people who are HIV+ it is doubly difficult. We have to overcome prejudice and bigotry which unfortunately is everywhere, even in places where one would least expect it.
Much of this prejudice is often fear, fear brought about by ignorance or misinformation. The notion usually put forward is that most people with HIV and certainly those who are gay and bisexual, are promiscuous. Contrary to popular opinion, gay and bisexual people are no more promiscuous than heterosexuals. Those of us with HIV, whether gay, bisexual or heterosexual, have just been unlucky with the throw of the dice. Sex is a dangerous business, always has been and will continue to be for as long as human beings exist.
Much of this bigotry and misinformation rubs off on us too. Think of the newly HIV+ diagnosed teenager, who has all their life before them. He or she will certainly struggle to come to terms with their condition. Some are more successful than others. This process is not helped by the stigma that society almost immediately places upon them. Feelings of worthlessness, being somehow unclean and unworthy of a loving relationship predominate. The mental scars this leaves on many infected individuals cannot be underestimated.
Immediate family members are often the last to come to terms with reality. In fact, the reality is that this condition though serious, is not the end of the world. It is now a manageable condition, albeit requiring expert medical assistance. Life certainly does continue and amongst the vast majority of those infected, in fact it gives new meaning to this precious thing called life. With the advent of the many new drugs coming on stream all the time, it is no longer the killer it once was. HIV infection is a chronic, but perfectly controllable condition in most people these days. Most HIV+ people that I know are some of the most happy human beings around and none of us deserve the derision of society’s hypocritical attitudes. We also don’t need nor want society’s pity, thank you very much!
Many of us at this very moment are making a success of our lives, despite this virus and we intend to continue. Sure, it isn’t easy, but with a little more compassion and common sense from those around us, it could be just that bit easier.
Like many others with a life threatening condition, we have faced it head on and come out not only smiling, but with a deeper sense of the real value of life. Life is for living and those of us who struggle with the mental and physical affects of HIV, we are neither heroes or villains, but merely human beings trying to live our lives the best we can.
Speaking for myself, I was looking death in the face a few years ago, but now I have a much deeper understanding of myself. I respect and value myself and others much more. That certainly has to be a good thing. All we need is a little more respect and understanding from those with whom we share our lives, then the sky really would be the limit.