Imagine this scene…
A warm fireplace burning in the background, two wine glasses chilled just right, two lab reports sitting next to you; one to the left, the other to the right, and rose petals setting the path on which a new relationship (8 weeks strong now) is blossoming. He takes your hand and kisses it ever so gently. You smile bashfully, dropping your head, feeling the flutter of butterflies inside. You feel alive! Everything feels new. And then, you share the news:
“I got my new lab report earlier today,” you say as you smile, focusing on the lower portion of the report page.
“Still below 20 copies ml. I’ve been undetectable for over 15 years now. I’m glad you decided to get tested after I shared my HIV status with you.”
He kisses your lips slowly and tenderly.
“Oh, of course baby. As we get to know each other better, it’s important to know everything so we start off right. I got my test results back over a week ago.” He reaches to the side and hands you his lab report. “I’m negative for HIV, and I know with options like PrEP and you being undetectable, I will stay that way. I also ask the clinic to test for other STDs, just to be sure. I want us both to stay safe, because safe is sexy. ” He giggles, snuggling closer. She smiles, thinking of how sexy he is to her, inwardly feeling like he could really be the one. She knows he cares by his actions, tenderness, and honesty.
You embrace, snuggling up closer near the fireplace.
“Cheers to you, my love,” you say, touching your wine glasses together.
“Cheers to us, baby,” he says, never taking his eyes off you.
You both talk of plans to have a family, finish school, and staying together and healthy, well into your senior years. The flames in the fireplace glow between the silhouette of your embrace.
“Everything you can imagine is real” ~ Pablo Picasso
When I became HIV positive almost 30 years ago, I could have never imagined I would experience love again, romance again, and life beyond the stigma and the uncertainty of an AIDS diagnosis. I was so wrong. Love came for me, life embraced me, and romance danced with me as I began to break free from the stigma and shame that surrounds the disease. I met the man of my dreams. He got tested and is HIV negative. Today, we continue to make plans for our future together. It’s a wonderful life!
HIV, in a profound way, taught me to fight for my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of my happiness. Now, I live my life unapologetically undetectable. I practice Kung Fu, teach fitness and educational classes, attend university to complete my doctorate in psychology, and work as the Minority AIDS Coordinator (MAC) at the Florida Department of Health.
I invite you to break free! Get tested, know your status, and share it openly when that special someone finds you. Live your life free of stigma and fear of a disease that is no longer what it used to be. Today, because of the amazing science of antiretroviral therapy, people are living long, healthy, active lives, and PrEP as prevention, makes it easier to relax into your own life’s “love scene.” Today, people with HIV are dreaming of a beautiful future. A future filled with romance, rose petals, and the passionate freedom of knowing your HIV status. Now, that’s just sexy.
Yours in the fight to end the HIV epidemic,
Sandra Maria Anderson
Author of Lessons from the Thorns: His Grace is Sufficient
Sandra is an author and speaker. She works for the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, serving as the Minority AIDS Coordinator. As she completes her dissertation in the Spring of 2021 in the area of African American studies and transgenerational trauma, Sandra plans to develop programs to halt the transmission of trauma in families, restoring a sense of purpose, wellness, and self-actualization.