I'm clean and want to stay that way: HIV+ for HIV+

Published: March 20, 2013

TheBody.com, probably one of the best resources for HIV related news and stories in the United States and, logically, the world, reports today on an incredible story of love between a heterosexual couple, Peter and Kathy McLloyd, who share the same love for each other but who are serodiscordant; that is, Peter is HIV+ and Kathy is HIV-.

This story is incredibly compelling, important to tell, and demonstrates that HIV is more than I tend to focus on.  More specifically, HIV cares not a whit about your sexuality, your race, or your heart.  Rather, it cares only about whether or not your bloodstream is accessible.  Indeed, this stark fact is often why I make the case that personal behavior in relation to HIV is irrelevant; the fact that this virus will touch someone who accidentally gets pricked with a needle in a medical procedure and leave someone who barebacks routinely untouched is testament to the fact that personal behavior has nothing to do with HIV’s “purpose” and everything to do with random happenstance.  Yet, I came away from the story feeling stronger than I already did about the fact that I do not feel confident I will ever be able to engage in a mixed-status relationship.

As a gay man, I have spent years navigating the LGBT community in a sexual and social sense. Failing miserably at two long term relationships, I tend to take a more cynical view of my ability to ever engage in the type of love demonstrated by my parents, a heterosexual couple celebrating their 36th year of being a single unit this year.  And, while there are days they seemingly want to murder one another, the love they demonstrate for one another has made itself manifest in the deep concern my father had during my mother’s breast cancer battle, the devastation my mother felt during my father’s brain surgery in the 1990s after a stroke-like event, and the fact that, regardless of how early it is, my father makes my mother a cup of tea religiously to greet her before the sun rises.

Yet, the fact that I have an apparent personal disability relating to romance is compounded by the reality that I also have a virus laying dormant in my bone marrow or bloodstream lying in wait for the opportunity to kill me and infect others. On a personal level, this means that I make taking my medication priority number one in my life, and that I experience a set of unique issues that the HIV- community knows nothing about.

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