Grateful? I don't think so

“You must be so grateful that your partner agreed to stay with you despite the fact that you have, you know, AIDS,” said a particularly vacuous journalist to me, during an interview for a women’s magazine. “Actually, no,” I replied, “He’s grateful that I stay with him, because I’m so great in bed.” Strangely, she chose to ignore my comment and continued to portray me as a vapid pathetic creature, ashamed of my status and gushing with gratitude that someone would deign to go out with diseased old me. No mention of the fact that I have a remarkable capacity to suppress my gag reflex.

It saddens me when I read about people living with HIV who feel that they have to hang up their shagging shoes and turn to a life of labourious abstinence. Should an HIV-positive diagnosis correlate with an abandoned libido? Well, I must confess that I did have a temporary loss of libido when I was first diagnosed. Being told that I only had four years to live didn’t make me feel particularly horny. Perhaps feeling that sex was the cause of my being HIV-positive, coupled with my Catholic conscience issues, put me off the dirty deed for a while.

At the time, I was in a relationship with a particularly vile American. He suggested that no one would want to be with me now, as I was HIV-positive. My self-esteem was so suppressed that I actually believed him. After we split up, I felt that my life would comprise of eating microwave meals for one and masturbation (surprisingly pleasurable if undertaken simultaneously). It took a year of making my eyesight considerably worse (only kidding), before I abandoned that notion.

I met my current partner at a conference and was immediately blinded with lust. I initially believed that our relationship would simply be a short-term sex thing, so didn’t feel that it was necessary to disclose my statuswe always had protected sex. A month later, I found myself in the heinous position of falling in love. I vacillated with the idea of dumping him, rather than face being rejected when I told him about my positive status. Finally I chose to tell him, classily, in a McDonald's car park (the rationale being that, if he rejected me, I’d have the compensation of a Big Mac Meal).

I began in a somewhat cowardly way, by saying “I have something to tell you about me, that’s quite bad”, and proceeded to let him guess. His first guess, rather alarmingly, was that I used to be a man – but he finally got there. Instead of rushing off to scrub himself in bleach, he professed his love, and five years later we’re still together.

I do hope we’ll stay together long-term, but if we don’t, I don’t think I’ll be booking myself into the nearest nunnery quite yet. My self-esteem has rebounded to its previous monstrous proportions – to the extent that I believe most men would be lucky to have me, regardless of my HIV-positive status. Pass me a banana and I’ll show you one of the reasons why…

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Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.