You see, the problem with dating guys my age is that instead of a date, our dinners often morph into an HIV/AIDS Q&A session once they learn my status.
He started asking questions about how I got it, about my most horrifying disclosure stories and any recent advances in medicine that might help me. I felt like I should give him a pop quiz afterward.
When I was 13 years old, I remembering telling myself, “I haven’t even kissed a boy and I have an STI.” That’s how the kids in my class and I were taught about HIV, an infection that I’ve had since birth. A bit about me: I’m 24, living in the Greater Toronto Area and a Gemini who works as a freelance journalist. My mother contracted HIV after my father had several affairs, and she was unaware of her status when she got pregnant, gave birth and breastfed me.
We both found out that we were HIV positive when we came to Canada in 1995. Over the years, I have learned to accept my status and love myself—but finding partners who feel the same is not always easy.
I was not ready to trust a teenage boy with that information.
I wondered what would happen if the whole city found out.
Even if my status wasn’t so public, whenever I go out with someone, I make sure that my date knows that I am HIV-positive early on.
Disclosing my status sooner rather than later is something I do—not because I plan on sleeping with them right away (of course, if I did that would be OK too)—but because I don’t want either of us to get too invested unless we both know what we’re getting into.
My teen years were a bit different than my classmates’ because, on top of my studies, they also included travelling to England to bury my father and caring for my mom, who was in and out of the hospital and passed away in 2012 from cancer.
Between dealing with all these “adult things,” dating was far from my mind.
I’m been publicly open about my status since I was 21.
I disclosed on You Tube because I couldn’t fathom telling someone one-on-one at first—so instead, I told the whole world all at once.
I have a great infectious diseases doctor who is always willing to have conversations with my partners and to make sure we are taking the right precautions. The truth is, I’m basically just like any other 20-something in Toronto. The only difference is that while some people might have an ex that they’re worried to bring up, or some family drama they are afraid to delve into during those first few dates, I have those things HIV.