Photo credit: Vonz B.

On June 25, 2008, I was diagnosed with HIV. I was in jail, and had decided to get tested. I knew that my girlfriend at that time was living with HIV and we hadn’t been taking precautions. I had to back to the pod [a housing unit in jail] with a white paper. Only people who tested positive got sent back with white papers.

I was scared, I didn’t know how to tell my family or friends.

I continued living the fast life, getting high, and going in and out of jail, never for too long or for anything serious. I hardly ever saw my son.

In 2009 I met the woman who I’d end up marrying. She was into the same lifestyle. In 2012, she got pregnant. We immediately stopped using drugs. We both went into separate drug programs: Epiphany Center and Ferguson Place.

You may be thinking, “What about the wife and baby? Are they living with HIV now, too?” The answer is no. I was taking my antiretroviral medicine, which caused my viral load to become undetectable. When someone’s viral load is undetectable, it’s a next to zero chance that they can pass HIV on to their partner. This method of prevention is called TasP, or Treatment as Prevention. And if the mom remains HIV negative, there is zero chance that the baby will acquire HIV.

When my wife went in to San Francisco General Hospital for her prenatal care, the midwife who saw her for her first visit asked her if she used drugs, smoked, drank, or had sex with someone with HIV. She said no to the first three, but told the midwife that I was living with HIV. She referred us to the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center (BAPAC, which is now HIVE).

My wife was offered PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), by several providers while in care at BAPAC, but she declined because she was unsure of the effects on our unborn baby and the fact that, with my viral load still undetectable, it was highly unlikely that she would acquire HIV. I got my viral load tested monthly, and my wife got tested for HIV monthly during the pregnancy and while she was breastfeeding.

We got so much support from the amazing providers and social worker at BAPAC. It was a really great experience. Everyone was so caring and committed to helping us stay healthy and succeed in life.

Now, almost three years later, we are still sober, we have a beautiful baby girl (who isn’t a baby any more- she just turned 2!), I’m back in my son’s life, and we have our own apartment. My wife is going to school to become a social worker and I recently got a new job. Our daughter starts preschool in the fall.

Vonz B lives in the East Bay with his wife, son, and daughter. They have a dog named Weasel.

 

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Information and Resources from HIVE

As Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and PrEP become more well-known across the U.S., we are 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. 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 family building options.

Prevention Access Campaign

Thinking About Having a Baby?

We’ve Been Seeing if We Are Ready, Are There Any Risks Involved?

Pietro Vernazza: Safer Conception Options for Serodifferent Couples

Disclosure: PRO Men

Adherence: PRO Men