How Do I Tell My Story Without Telling His...?

Submitted on Oct 12, 2023 by  Marig2016

Marissa Gonzalez and other women.


I've told my story a ton of times about what led to me contracting HIV. I was always cautious as to not say certain things that could point to the person I contracted from or even more tell a story that wasn't mine to tell...

I recently was a guest on my friends podcast called Parlor Talk, which takes place in a Hair Salon in Cape Coral Florida. I knew that we would talk about my business ventures, but the focus would likely be centered around HIV as one of the hosts has always expressed to me that her brother passed from AIDS-related complications.

Any time I'm featured on something, I always play back the conversation several times to see how I might better my speaking skills or hone in on how I tell my story. This is something I've done over the years, but this time was quite different. As I listened, I took clear notice that based on the things I mentioned, if you knew me during that time, you could very easily "assume" who my diagnosis came from.

This left me with a very uneasy feeling. I felt like I was causing or could be a reason behind some stigma he may encounter since he himself is not public with his status. Is how I'm telling my story really having an impact on him, in the sense of outing him? Am I somehow violating his privacy? Am I somehow breaking the law? Because if you know anything about criminalization laws centered around HIV, then you know what I mean.

I've always made sure to never mention his name or other things that occurred because they aren't my story to tell, but a part of me this time around just didn't feel all that great after listening to the playbacks... Am I oddly trying to protect him from something? This is me playing therapist to myself.

So the big question is this: How does one tell their story without exposing that of someone else? Clearly we didn't get here on our own, regardless of if we contracted through sexual encounters, IV drug use or mother-to-child transmission... There is almost always someone that is a part of our story. So how do I, how do we, authentically tell our stories without exposing the other person that's part of the equation?

Here's the talk... Take a listen and tell me your thoughts.

Submitted by tj30trust

Good morning, Sis! I had this issue when I started sharing my story. I had to navigate the traumatic events in my storytelling. I have used humor in describing how I contracted HIV. I have often expressed to the audience to not feel sorry for me because with the HIV diagnosis came a true awareness of my health in its totality. I expressed how in the moment, I experienced joy and pleasure. There was no force or coercion to give of myself. I reached out to him after I started advocating because I was worried that he wasn't taking care of himself. Today, I deal with survivor's guilt because I am still here, and he is not due to stigma and shame of having HIV. You make me laugh when we are together, so instead of mentioning his name or naming him as a longterm partner, maybe just say someone with whom I was intimate was how I contracted HIV. You are correct in not wanting to publicly name him because of HIPAA. 

Submitted by kmartel

This was the situation that we battled when my sister acquired HIV/AIDS. who to tell and where she think she acquired it from. It was her decision in the end, and I think it is yours, too. She wasn't in touch with him anymore, so just left it alone, but did reach out to any partners she had after. wasn't easy. It's up to you, ultimately, how you want to proceed with it! xx

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