I am HIV+.
That’s a small sentence that takes great bravery to say.
While surfing through Manjam (a gay dating website), I realized that there were some men who publicly stated their HIV+ health status on their profiles.
“I’m HIV+ healthy man, very sexy i love my life and i live in peace”, states one user on his profile.
“Positively Positive Attitude… looking for serious”, pronounces another.
I wanted to know more about what it was like to be gay and HIV positive in Lebanon, so I was very glad when one of the men graciously agreed to answer my questions.
Here are some things I found out about him:
- When he knew he was HIV+, he cried so much because he knew nothing about the disease at the time
- The first person he told about the test results was a close friend
- When his parents first found out, it was hard on them, but now that they are more familiar with the disease, they fully support him
- He is able to afford the medical expenses because he lives abroad
There are many misinformed people who think that HIV is transmitted through a handshake, a kiss on the cheek, hugging or even sneezing. So I asked him “What do you have to say to people who are afraid of you infecting them with HIV?”.
I honestly did not expect his answer to be:
“I don’t blame them. It’s not their fault if they’re not well informed about it”.
It takes a lot of understanding to not be judgmental towards those who are judging you, doesn’t it?
He later said that the misconception he wants to correct is that “an HIV+ person is a dying person who transmits the virus everywhere.” According to him, ignorance is the biggest form of discrimination that HIV positive people face in Lebanon.
When it comes to dating, sex, and relationships:
- He has never been rejected by a guy because of his health status
- He has been in love 3 times since his diagnosis and is currently in a relationship
- He always uses a condom when he has sex with people who don’t have AIDS
- When it’s a pure sexual relationship, he doesn’t tell the person he is having sex with that he is HIV+ because it’s a very personal matter, but safe sex is a must
He also has a word of advice for people who don’t use a condom during a one night stand, or those who refuse to take an HIV test because they are afraid of the result, or just don’t care about it:
“To use a condom is for their own good before anyone else’s. To make the test one in a while is also for their own good!”
Some cool info are:
- What he hates most about Lebanon is the politics and religious conflicts (Oh don’t we all…)
- What he loves most about Beirut is that all his family, friends and memories linger here
- He listens to Edith Piaf, Dalida & Oum Koulthoum
- His favorite movies are Elizabeth, The Others & City of Angels
- Favorite books are all of Gebran Khalil Gebran’s manuscripts
I want to thank this man for answering my questions. I learned a lot! :)
HIV positive people are no different from HIV negative people.
Just because they carry the virus doesn’t mean that they can’t fall in love, make friends, build positive healthy relationships, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that they transmit the virus through a handshake or a kiss on the cheek.
They’re not “dying” people. They’re living! They’re taking their medications and are healthy individuals.
Their diagnosis doesn’t make them any less Lebanese.
HIV+ people have the same dreams, hopes and aspirations for this country, just like any other Lebanese person.
Spread the Word.
*A special wet Thank You kiss goes out to my 3 friends who translated the interview for me. Couldn’t have done it without you guys!*