Reggae Sumfest 2018

HIV means Help I'm Vulnerable

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Testimonial by: JD

jd_bath-hiv-photo-patient-beyonce-jay-z.jpgI want to express my thoughts on HIV/AIDS and my experiences to all who will listen since HIV to me means Help I'm Vulnerable. This is a statement without boundaries, similar to the virus that can cause this crippling disease - AIDS. HIV does not alert anyone to the fact that it is checking in. Once in your blood stream, it tends to lay quietly at first for a very long time, only coming alive when the opportunity to slip into another red wet human vein arrives. I heard about this pandemic for years, but did not listen…after all, in my mind, this information did not apply to me.

I had no idea...until the day my husband died. When I met him he looked regular - well not exactly regular, he was extraordinarily fine. Masculine - muscular - six pack - smooth and gorgeous complexion - flawless skin throughout - and to top it off he was agile and really intelligent.

Since the early eighties, popular opinion, as well as some published sources led me to believe HIV/AIDS was unique to certain sectors of society. Since I took great pride in my accomplishments as a professional media technician, an educator, community activist and a liberated modern mom, this didn’t seem to be an issue that would ever affect me, My impression of people living with HIV then, reflected the images I had been fed, and they were deplorable in my estimation.

So upon meeting the man of my dreams, it didn't occur to me (in my late 20th century sexually revolutionised morality) that there would be any cause for concern. Besides being a bit of free-spirited, I remained old fashioned in matters of intercourse and therefore slow, but it never crossed my mind that first of all - I ought to thoroughly "interview" my prospective soul and bed mate and secondly that I should have suggested we both have HIV tests prior to sealing up our relationship with sex. Six months later he popped the question - 12 months later we were Mr. and Mrs. and I still had no idea.

My husband was a hopeless romantic. Our wedding was like an event straight out of a dream. Our fine upstanding families and professional friends flew in from all over the world to share the moment with us. I was overjoyed and thought about how fortunate I was and about how good things do indeed come to those who wait. I had experienced failed relationships previously - with men who were Rastafarian, who would profess their love for me and at least 3 sometimes 4 other women simultaneously. As I aged, the old fashioned me surfaced, and I just wanted to be like my mom and dad (married happily ever after) to a guy who wanted only me.

So me and my new "dapper dahlin" went up to the chapel and got hooked. Did I tell you he was successful and had a winning personality to match the physique? Well all that did not add up to the mucky picture I had painted of HIV/AIDS. Three years into our close to perfect marriage he began complaining about aches and pains in his back and then chose to work on extended contracts away from home. On one occasion when he returned form a project, parts of his body was covered with what I now know as Kaposi's Sarcoma (which was one indicator, especially in the 80s and 90s that full blown AIDS was looming). Kaposi's Sarcoma is an AIDS related cancer

Did I know the difference - hell no! This all looked like a bad case of eczema and I just thought my husband was negligent in taking proper care of himself. I nagged him about getting eczema medication and remembering next time to travel with it.

Then another overseas project came up shortly after...it seemed a little soon for him to be leaving again, but little did I know, he was not only getting more and more sick, but he was also aware of his problem and was afraid to disclose. He had told someone (I found out later) that he had not informed me of his illness, because of his fear of rejection - not from me (because we had unconditional love), but from the world around us - his job, his family - including kids, his friends and mine.

A few weeks later I got a call and the message was devastating. My husband was on death's door and was succumbing to AIDS related illnesses. I didn't make it in time to see him - to discuss this whole situation - before he passed away.

I have forgiven my husband and I often think that this happened to me in order to save some people in the world. Since overcoming my own breakdown following his death, I have begun working tirelessly to not only help others who become infected to cope with this disability, but also to educate young and old, men and women about the realities of HIV/AIDS. There are too many myths floating around. Ignorance and misinformation - in this instance can surely end up to mortality or morbidity. The most morbid occurrence being the HIV related stigma and discrimination that I and all other people living with HIV/AIDS face today.

By the way - I think I should also tell you my husband was from an island and he was not a gay man, neither was he one to be promiscuous. He had a history of intravenous drug use - and never in my wildest dreams did I think an islander would have been into slamming needles in their veins. What was he thinking when in his youth he decided to try drugs and needles while on a trip to some mainland...well - it all ended up being to his and my demise.

Moral of the story? Don't just hear the warnings about HIV/AIDS as they pass by the way. Stop - open up your minds and really LISTEN….get in the know. You can get credible and current information always at www.unaids.org and Black ethno specific information at www.blackaids.org - and of course stay tuned to YardFlex, because this "for real" paper will be bringing it to you STRAIGHT.
One more thing...remember that everyone should test. For more on testing for HIV go to: Web site: http://www.testforlife.org/

Reggae Sumfest 2018

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Reggae Sumfest 2018