“Hi my name is Ken and my story starts at age 26. I met HIV at the age of 26 and there was a beautiful boy involved in my story. We dated for 3 months. It was an intense relationship; very much in love. We had a conversation about HIV prior to getting involved in a relationship with each other, leading me to get tested. I was HIV negative and so we engaged. Three months after that, the relationship ended… I have no idea where it went… looking for it to this day. Three months after that, I tested positive for HIV.”
Ken explains why and what happened when he decided to test himself for HIV again. He talks about taking the HIV Rapid Results test at home and researching how to properly read the test results. That night, he realized he had tested ‘reactive’.
“The hardest part about that first week was believing that it was real. Believing that I actually received an HIV diagnosis. I did so much bargaining with God, but it was real and the hardest part was believing that it was real.
What happened for me after I began the medication was that that pill, every night, became my reminder that I was, in fact, infected with HIV. Which was a hard pill to swallow in-and-of-itself. But it was also knowing that this pill is going to save my life… this pill was going to give me the hope.
A lot of people that are diagnosed with HIV don’t think that relationships can happen because of the diagnosis and I didn’t want to be burdened by that idea. I knew that I deserved love and I wanted love. And so, as long as I kept that energy high and up, I knew that it was going to come back to me ten-fold.
I think there is a certain confidence that I wear with my diagnosis. Acceptance is a place where someone—with any type of diagnosis—begins to start taking care of themselves and begins to own their story.
I remember the first time I said I was HIV positive out loud to someone who didn’t even need to know that information and how it felt so good to give that up and not really be giving anything up. And when I felt that freedom I knew then that I would take to my own platform, to share my story, to hopefully free someone else of that same guilt and shame.
This biggest lesson for me on this journey is that if we keep our secrets hidden, even in denial from ourselves, we keep them as a burden.
One of the most beautiful things that has come out of this journey (having HIV) has been the part of sharing my story. It has been the community that has been built from sharing my story.”
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