Men Living with HIV
I’m a son, a father, a grandfather, a brother, and I am HIV+.
As we are approaching Father’s Day, as a father of a beautiful daughter, I am especially grateful.
For the past five years, I’ve been known as the ‘HIV positive heterosexual male go-to-guy’, a seemingly non-existent, rare voice within the HIV community. That all changed a couple of weeks ago when I finally came to terms and acceptance with a very personal topic I’ve grappled with for quite some time, the realization of my bisexual identity.
We were gathered together and again, your Umi knows I am living with HIV. The ceremony was simple. We prayed, spoke affirmations for your life, and then I raised you up, and spoke your name Amenhotep Kazembe Ture Abif.
Then the truth set me free. Learning about Undetectable equals Un-transmittable ( U=U ), and PrEP gave me a new light in life. I set out to make sure I achieved and maintained undetectable levels to prevent the spread of HIV and inform my partners about PrEP. I have come to understand that my future child will not face the same stigma and side effects in their life. This hope has inspired me to think about what family I want to have.
While to my knowledge, there are still little to no support groups for heterosexual people living with HIV, I have learned to focus on the Human of HIV. I aim to create the space to reflect just that.
My name is Nestor Rogel, I am 27 years old and I was born HIV positive. I live in South Central Los Angeles, and have been advocating for people living with HIV for many years. Being a single heterosexual cis gender man in Los Angeles is difficult. Dating and disclosure have taken on different meanings in my life.
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.
That damn bicycle has given me a life back when I thought I had none. It’s rejuvenated my creative abilities to record and acknowledge such an incredible, health-rebuilding journey. Spinning my wheels to the tune of 8,880 miles since August, 2015, and I was diagnosed August, 2014.
This decision to be married and have kids has absolutely nothing to do with me being undetectable with a high CD4 cell count. I still wanted children even when I was first diagnosed with HIV.
I asked him immediately if he was HIV negative, because otherwise I could always go to a hospital to get PEP [Post-Exposure Prophylaxis] before 72 hours passed. He reassured me that he tested negative five days ago, and I should not worry at all, because he always used condoms.
Every child learns and grows at a different pace, I know back in the day kids grew up a lot faster and weren’t coddled as the ones today. I don’t think my daughter quite understands the gravity of the virus and what it comes with, the doctors, the stigma, the friends and family casting you out, mostly because of ignorance, so, when I think she can wrap her head around it is when I’ll discuss it with her.
One of the few things I’ve learned in life is that if you stay positive and constantly ask the universe, eventually you do get what you want, which in this case, is exactly what happened.
My son was a different story. I just felt like it was too soon for me to tell him my status. I was hoping I could teach him about it and then let him know sometime after that.
My name is Christopher Holmes, and I’m a 34 year old Black gay man living with HIV. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, and now reside in Bronx, NY. I have six brothers and one sister and they all have kids.
The same year as my diagnosis was the same year I was accepted into law school. I am now a licensed attorney and as of writing this piece, have been with my partner (who is HIV negative) for the past 6 years. We are also the proud foster parents of our 18-month old daughter.
My journey will begin starting next year, when I start the adoption process and actively trying to find a surrogate that is HIV positive. I don’t know where this journey will take me, and honestly I am still fearful, but I believe in facing fears head on and not cowering away from them.
Now comes the snag, we are having difficulty due to the fact that Donna needs fertility medications to help us have a baby. Our insurance does not cover it; the most we could afford was a visit to a fertility doctor, to buy treatment for about 9 months, plus two follow up visits. So far we’ve had no success.
Needless to say, I’ve had a few ups and down over the course of the past 16 years, but my daughter is the reason why I get out of bed every day. I consistently think about what I can do to improve her life and be there whenever she needs me.
I want a second chance with a new child of my own who I can raise and love throughout his whole life, living in the same city, and with lots of stability. I feel as though I’m in the right place, financially, mentally, and me and my girlfriend both love each other dearly.
My own fear and ignorance led me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to be able to have children and that I was unworthy of love. By educating myself about HIV, disclosing my status to trusted family members and friends and engaging with my community I learned the value of my own life.
Both moms of my kids identify as lesbians. I’m coparenting with my son’s mom, and I will be coparenting with my new baby’s mom, too.
When I found out she was pregnant, it was like a shot of dopamine surged through my blood and left me in a state of euphoria. I felt like I had finally caught a break in life, God had finally answered one of my prayers, to be a father…
Finding that special someone can be a complicated enough process without adding HIV into the picture. When I was diagnosed it seemed like an unfathomable possibility to find someone who would accept my status…
When I heard the words “You are HIV Positive,” in June of 2012, time itself seemed to have stopped. It was as if I was seeing my whole life flash before my eyes and I was a simple bystander on the sidelines left with no control of the situation but to watch.
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.
When the shock finally wore off many months later, I realized HIV was only a small part of me and I was not going to allow this virus to define me.