Through Positive Eyes

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Alcione Rio de JaneiroAlbany

We don’t know how we’re going to catch it, because it wasn’t made to catch on a pole, it was made to catch on people.

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I am Alcione Star, I am a resident of Nova Iguaçú, Rio de Janeiro. I am 56 years old and I am a carrier of HIV. I am positive. I have lived with this about 20 years, and today my life is wonderful, very serious, and wonderful.

I depended a lot on the street corner. I hustled at Praça Tiradentes, Augusto Severo, Lapa, Mendes Sá, Cinema Iris, Rua da Carioca, and it was in one of these environments that I was contaminated with this HIV virus. Who was the carrier of this disgrace, that I don’t know—if he is alive or not. We don’t know how we’re going to catch it, because it wasn’t made to catch on a pole, it was made to catch on people.

I don’t have anything against those who have or don’t have the disease. We are in this not because we want to but because of the design of destiny. I wouldn’t want to have it, but since I have it I am here so that I can say to those who don’t have it: protect yourselves, use a condom, use a rubber. Those who have it, continue to protect yourselves, take your antiviral medications, go to the doctor, use a good condom, and face life head on, through positive eyes.

I don’t live from working the streets anymore. I don’t disagree with those who do because they don’t do it because they want to, it’s because of necessity. I take all my medication at the right time. I go to the doctor every time the doctor recommends it. I want all to follow my example, no matter if you are a man, a prostitute, bisexual, or transsexual. Because here I am, standing without falling, lying down without sleeping.

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Early this morning, on my way back from the bakery, a lad was at my house and, abusing my trust in him, he took my ID card and the camera that you gave me. It’s when we are horny that it happens. He came by my house on Saturday, just past midnight, when I was asleep. The doorbell rang; it was him. It was cold, I was alone and I wanted to fool around a bit. But how would I know I would go to buy some bread today and he would do this to me.

I am annoyed. No one likes being robbed, especially someone like me, who has never been disrespected by crooks. I’m hurting. I got kissed by the spider woman.

He is a rent boy; he is used to doing this kind of stuff. He stole my credit card once. I let it go. I did not think he would do it again. He took the camera but left the charger, that bastard!
Since I knew his name I went to the nearest police station as quickly as I could. I reported it, and was stomped by those crocodiles, the policemen.

Policemen are scum. That is why when thugs shoot they shoot to kill. Don’t go thinking policemen die for no reason. Thugs don’t send messages. But there are good thugs and bad ones. I might be a crook myself, but I am not such a bad one. I was dangerous once, but nowadays I follow the straight path. I was no daisy. Today I am like this: I’ve got my apartment, I go to the bank, and sign my check. Being a black fag and all, I follow the cross God has given me.

Barack Obama is coming! Let’s see if he does things the right way. I rooted for him to win the election. A black man to win over there… I liked it. A mosquito was bothering him the other day, wasn’t it? Didn’t he kill it then ask for a picture of it on the floor? One blow and POW.

I don’t like letting people down. I don’t mind if other people do, but I like things done properly. I might not be so proper because I’m a tranny, but I don’t like it. I took pictures of the brewery, of the Avenida Brasil, of the mountains. I lost them all; they are gone. In one of the images stolen, I was having sex with a condom. I protect myself.

I hope the police catch him. I have already sent a message to the Morro da Providencia, because if the police do not find him, the thugs will, and they all know me. I can come and go. I never got a foot wrong with them. Not yet anyway.

I used to live in this guesthouse, and I paid it daily to the madam. If I didn’t pay her I would have nowhere to sleep, I would have to sleep in the streets. I didn’t want that. I wanted to work and go back to sleep. I wanted to fuck and I didn’t want to protect myself. At that time the Unified Health System didn’t give condoms away, you had to buy them and I had no money. I paid for lodging daily, I had to sleep during the day and hustle at night to be able to have a place to live. I was young and pretty, and it was my heyday, with all these men after me.

I was doing all sorts of stuff, dealing drugs and so on. I had fallouts with the police at Lapa in order to survive, because the cops did not leave us alone to work. We would cut ourselves with razorblades or broken glass so as to not go to jail. That is how it was.

I got infected, but I don’t know by whom, because they were many. We did not use condoms. It was in 1994. I was a whore. The thugs saw me there so young and pretty and took me to have sex with them. I lived with one of them, their boss. The police do not bat an eyelid when they see me, but thugs, they are drawn to me. Thug wives are transvestites and fags.

In 1994, I applied for a job in the public sector. I had seen a public competition for a job written in the Diário Oficial. I was already infected, but at the time I had no clue I had AIDS. I did not expect to get in, but since I had finished primary school I thought I would give it a go—who knows? I went, signed up, and thanks to the good Lord, I took the exam and I passed.

Then I went to the doctor, not well at all, and I asked for an HIV test. The doctor was like wow when I asked to take the test. She said that all of the patients that she had asked to get tested almost hit her. I was the only patient who asked to have an HIV test. In the end, she was terrified when I asked for this. She didn’t understand anything.

By the time I found out about my status, I was already working at a school in Jacarepagua. The doctor sent for me at the school when the results finally came. I already knew why she was calling me so urgently. The next day she told me I was HIV-positive. When I found out I had HIV, the ground opened up and I wanted to die.

I cried a lot. She counselled me, said that now I had to be strong to take this trauma. I lived in an area of criminals, Praça da Sé over in Jacarepaguá. I was the fag, transvestite of criminals, and the criminals didn’t know I was trans, didn’t know I had HIV. How was I supposed to tell those men that I was a carrier of the AIDS virus? I had to swallow hard. They were seeing that I was losing weight, my face was drying up, the skin on my face was peeling, my face was turning white from peeling so much. At the time there were no drugs, no resources. It was the time of Cazuza, and I was hanging on, taking only one, the AZT that they had at the time.

Having HIV in my life was very difficult, really very difficult. I was really a mess. But I looked through the bars in the window and said, “This I can do, and in God I trust.” And here we are—I am living, thank God. I am strong, pretty.

When I want to have sex with a condom, I do it. If I want to have it without it, the same. You cannot taste the candy with the wrap still on. Since they fucked me over, I give them some too. Although I work at the AIDS hotline in order to teach others how to use protection. But they don’t want to.

I get along well with all the prostitutes. I finish with my work at nine p.m. and I stop by the central, where there are lots of them. I have no problems with the police. I have cleaned my stakes with them; I am clean. I’m not all clean because I am a tranny, but otherwise, I’m fine. I get along with the prostitutes, with the crooks, to score some drugs. I have done it all but crack and smack.

I am retired, got some money of my own, my apartment paid with state money. I thought I was going to die, but God was with me, as he is today. I don’t hustle anymore, thank God, and today I’m fine, very well really.

Those who see a face can’t see AIDS, and those who see me can’t tell I have AIDS. No one can tell I have HIV. And I’m living.

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