After the diagnosis, I went to my boss to explain. My coworkers started distancing themselves from me and, eventually, my employer asked me to leave. The news spread that I had AIDS and my friends started to run away. I didn’t have support from my family. I was chased away from my two children. I had to start another life. I lived alone, without friends.
At that time, around the 1980s through the late 1990s, AIDS was so scary. No one wanted to associate themselves with AIDS. Even me. I could not accept myself as a person living with AIDS.
In the early 2000s you started to see education programs—I think these assisted a lot. Through treatment literacy programs, I learned about the life cycle of the virus, how the virus operates in your system, how to control it.
Eventually my children said, “We want our father.” As they grew up, they started to realize how life works. Now they visit me whenever they wish. I tell them, “Any time you want me, just call me. Daddy will be there for you.” So the relationship with them is OK. And with the mother, I told her that I forgive her. I just moved on.
Me and the virus, we need to have a clear understanding. If the virus kills me today, the virus is going to die. I’ve made a bond with the virus to say, “Spare my life and I’ll spare yours.”