When I first got tested in 1997, I was not ill at all. I just tested because I wanted to. But then, in 2001, I started becoming very ill, so I got tested again. When they told me that I was positive, I was not shocked at all because I knew my behavior had been bad. I had many girlfriends, you know, I was a playboy—you can see how handsome I am. But I was destroying my life. So I told myself that it was time for me to change, because I was very ill. I really want to live. I really love life.
The same day I found out my HIV status, I went straight to my mother’s house and told her. She didn’t want to show me that she was very sad, so she said, “You are positive? So what?” I realized that she was trying to uplift me, to tell me I didn’t have to give up. So I started to think positively, to take medication, and to pick up my life.
When I was diagnosed in 2001, my current wife was my girlfriend—along with other girlfriends. I disclosed to her and she accepted me, and I saw that she was more supportive than the others. She went to test, she tested repeatedly, but each and every time she tested negative. She is the source of my life, because she helps me a lot.
My children saw me in many posters, many newspapers. Even if I didn’t talk to them directly, they already knew about my status. They are HIV-negative, and whenever I get a chance, I tell them that it’s important to check their health.
The last child that I had, I love her very much. She’s an example to show people that you can still have a family with a wife who’s negative, a husband who’s positive. My other children, I love them so much too. I’ve got two children in my current marriage, and I’m living with three others. Their mothers just said, “You know what? Take care of these children.” I’m so happy that they are part of my life.
As a father, I see that it’s important to take care of my children. My father didn’t take care of me because of his many wives, and I realize that I used to be like him. Then I saw that it was important to change my life completely, to think positively, to take care of everything, to rectify all the mistakes that I had made in my life.
You know, I always want to be happy, because it motivates me and makes me strong. When I become sad, I can feel it in my body—it’s not good for me. That’s why I’ve changed. I am lucky to have a woman who loves me so much. She doesn’t listen to people’s gossip, when they say, “She stays with a person who’s positive. Maybe she’s positive.” People must understand that when you’re positive, it’s not the end of the world. My wife tells me each and every day that what I’m doing is right. She wants me to be strong enough to live long, to sustain my life for a long time. She is still HIV-negative and I’m still HIV-positive. Until death do us part.