Photo credits: Michael Zalnasky
From the very start, after my 2014 AIDS diagnosis, I exposed my status pretty much world-wide, considering social media and its reach. Imagine, standing naked, alone, fragile, frail, a ghostly-looking man, the walking dead if you will. Saying these words, as your own reflection peers right back at you in the mirror, ?I have AIDS!!!?
That day, my life changed forever: the fears, the shames, the guilt, all seemed to flush right through me. And so it began. Throughout this journey of mine, lassoing and maintaining a grip in the eyes of stigma has become my passion. I spoke early, often, and loud, almost immediately following my so-called doomsday. I became involved in HIV/AIDS Facebook groups, especially the private groups. What was really exposed to my eyes early on, was how many heterosexual positive people there were, and there, in these groups, they found freedom, and they found release.
Burdens of weight lifted. All those inner secrets that isolated them within their own lifestyles. Story after story being told like, ?she told me I’ve been HIV positive for 20 years, the only one that knew was my dead husband, he died in 1996 from AIDS-related complications, but nobody knows his cause of death.? One can only imagine being bound and wrapped up with stigma for 20 years, some more, some less, but the pains are equally sharp.
The almost silenced, rarely spoken of, heterosexual HIV community. Had we Stigmatized ourselves into nonexistence? After all, how often do you ever hear of good HIV care or facilities outside the demographics of the LGBT community? Was is it the longevity of the silence brought on by stigma and shame that created such barriers from exposure to the public world?
I created Heterosexual POZ as an avenue to encourage other positive heterosexuals to feel the freedoms I feel from being openly HIV positive. We share ideas, we lift others up, we support each other through struggles. Most importantly, we show #OurPresenceMatters
As founder and creator of The Heterosexual Poz Movement, I myself see such a need for more awareness, more conversation and discussions of knowledge. Recently, I attended The AIDS/HIV Seniors Conference, a wonderful all-day event with great keynote speakers, breakfast and lunch provided, with roughly 160 people in attendance. The only thing noticeably missing throughout the day: The topic of Heterosexual Poz people and our needs. In fact, the only mention came late in the day, when a female advocate asked why she hadn’t heard the heterosexual community mentioned.
It was then that I really began gathering my thoughts, initiating, and implementing my plans for a Heterosexual Positive group, but different from most. I wanted it to be a movement, not just a group, to encourage other heterosexual poz people to live more openly about their status, showing the positive effects of regaining and rebuilding life after diagnosis. Remember: #OurPresenceMatters.
My Name is Michael Zalnasky. My friends call me Zee. My grandsons call me PaPa. My Daughter, well she calls me Dad. And I am Heterosexual HIV POZ.
Information and Resources from HIVE
As Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and PrEP become more well-known across the U.S., HIVE is wondering how men who have sex with women are finding out about the possibilities for safer conception, what they think about it, and what barriers remain.
We love sharing stories about men living with HIV who are having, have had, or want to have children. We also love sharing stories about dating and disclosure. Applause for clinics who are routinely offering PrEP to women, and clinics who are telling people living with HIV that TasP works.
We are on a journey, learning and growing together. Looking for a platform for your voice? Interested in helping others by sharing your story? We can work with you if you prefer to be anonymous. No professional writing skills necessary. Contact caroline@HIVEonline.org
Check out the links below for resources around TasP and disclosure.
We need more articles about Heterosexuals. Equal amount of articles. HIV articles with NO LGBTQ reference. Women’s articles without transgender reference. After all they are included in that portion of the alphabet LGBTQ.
Heterosexual life is starkly different than LGBTQ. To be consistently omitted or forced to be an afterthought is a form of discrimination. Speaking of discrimination, when we try to have exclusively straight activities we are accused of discrimination. Does anyone see how biased the POZ community has been?
Thanks Zee. The movement continues.
While I agree that Zee is awesome and the Heterosexual POZ movement is valuable and necessary, I wanted to point out that there are many articles about heterosexual people who have HIV. Similarly, there are many, many articles about cis women (cis=non-trans). It is also valuable to be inclusive of everyone (which does not mean adding anyone as an afterthought). Transgender women are women, and deserve to be included in women’s articles. Some articles and resources are necessary for trans women (that are about trans-specific issues), some for cis women (that are about cis-specific issues), and some for both (women-specific issues). The LGBTQ community has been disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, that is why there are tons of resources in that community. HIVE has resources for both heterosexual people AND LGBTQ people. I encourage you to explore our website.
Linda has battled a long time and is an incredible writer
Im certain she could be a contributor to hive
Hello everyone!!!!! I’m a gay man, HIV LONG TERM SURVIVOR, and I’m the founder of the HIV LONG TERM SURVIVORS GROUP, we’re a very inclusive group. I’m the first one to fight for my sisters, and also for my straight brothers, in every place I speak even in an International level. No doubt, we need to hear more stories of straight people with HIV, and also more stories of our sisters, as well as from transgender people, but, we’re in this together. In this present time, every place should give resources and services to everyone with HIV, yes, not just gay or bisexual men, I agree. And yes, no doubt, there are particular needs and journeys from our straight community, but seeing it that way, every journey has certain individual characteristics. I’m an immigrant ( certain particulars), I’m LATINO ( certain particulars), I’m aging with HIV ( certain particulars ), anyway, we all have certain particular things. But once again, there were times that there was a need for LGBTQ groups, because of discrimination, but I hope times are different, sadly, the stigma against anyone with HIV is still very high, and we should be together to work against it. Society has to change their way it sees HIV positive people. Sending you love. AH!!! also thanks Zee for what you’re doing, always remember to acknowledge others from the straight community wh have done things in the past. A movements is something fluid….HUGS.
I LOVE your comment & the feeling behind it! <3
Thanks sweet Caroline…..:) I mean it…..you can find me in FACEBOOK, we just came back from talking to our supervisors here in SF. Defending and fighting for all of us aging. HUGS.
I am excited to be part of this movement..My name is Claire i was born with HIV and I will be 34 in June. I am heterosexual , am a woman and i love men. i have one partner i live with, and i am expecting a baby boy. I strongly recognize the need for heterosexual folks to have space where we talk about our issues. As an activist and woman leader i know that a big portion of new HIV infections are Heterosexual but we are little by little disappearing from the discussion and funds are being diverted to other issues. I understand and Strongly support advoaccy for LGBT issues but also i wish we heterosexual stay in the conversation. When i announced that i am pregnant i felt alone , i felt pro life means abortion for many folks,… i felt alone , didn’t receive messages of encouragement from some fellow activists ,…
I felt there is no community support for women living with HIV to have babies, yet there is a great support for abortion . we rarely talk about researches for pregnant women living with HIV, or children born from morhers living with HIV in USA. We have very few data on breastfeeding for mothers living with HIV. as an African i am torn away that i won’t be able to breastfeed my son, yet i have been undetectable for 4 years in a row. Why? there is no updated data on the likelihood of infecting a baby through breastfeeding. Why? because we don’t talk about natural procreation from heterosexual couples enough. I strongly support this group and would like to request that we send abstracts and presentations for the USCA 2017 and other USA relavant conferences. I am drafting some thing about Breastfeeding in the era of undetectable equals untransmittable. Hopefully i will attend the USCA which a week away from my due date, but i will do it because very few people are interested in procreation for young women living withHIV especially for a generation of people born with HIV.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! I am sorry that you haven’t received the support that you need and want. HIVE has some resources about breastfeeding when you are living with HIV, and for women living with HIV who are pregnant. I would like to offer you some links which may be helpful:
HIVE’s page for women living with HIV: https://www.hiveonline.org/for-you/hiv-women/
Healthy Women, Babies, & Families (a video about women living with HIV having babies): https://www.hiveonline.org/healthy-women-babies-families/
Breastfeeding information for women living with HIV: https://www.hiveonline.org/wlhiv/infant_feeding_basics.pdf
Pietro Vernazza on breastfeeding for women living with HIV: https://www.hiveonline.org/the-swiss-response-to-breastfeeding-for-women-living-with-hiv/
Positive Women’s Network: https://pwn-usa.org/
Please let me know if I can be helpful and/or supportive to you in any way. Would you like to share your story about your pregnancy and wanting to breastfeed?
Caroline Watson (Caroline@HIVEonline.org)
While I can appreciate Zee’s effort to change the narrative that HIV is exclusively a LGBTQ thing, I can say for a fact he does not respect the privacy or points brought up by others.
If you join his Facebook group he will ban you for no reason & refuse to remove any identifying content that he has no rights to.
Also; if you PM him to remove posts that you can’t because you’re banned, he’ll block you like a coward.
How very interesting, this explains a lot:
Case Detail – Public Print
State of Florida Vs. Zalnasky, Michael Chester
Broward County Case Number: 79007752CF10A State Reporting Number: 061979CF007752A88810 Court Type: Felony Case Type: Felony
Filing Date: 02/13/1987 Case Status: Disposition Entered Court Location: Central Courthouse Judge ID / Name: Judge, Unassigned Magistrate Id / Name: N/A
Party Type Party Name Address
Attorneys / Address
Denotes Lead Attorney
State State of Florida
Defendant Zalnasky, Michael Chester
5401 NE 21 Ave #206
Ft Laud, Fl
U.S. Of America
Charge Degree Detail 1 (F2) Sexual Battery / Vict 12 Yrs +
Date Filed: 10/26/1979
Current Statute: (CF2)794.011(5)
Filing Type: SAO Information
Filing Agency: Fort Lauderdale PD
Original Statute: (F2)794.011(5)-Sexual Battery / Vict 12 Yrs +
Charge Degree Detail 2 (F1) Robbery / Deadly Weapon
Current Statute: (CF1)812.13(1)2a
Filing Type: No Information
Filing Agency: Fort Lauderdale PD
Original Statute: (F1)812.13(1)2a-Robbery / Deadly Weapon