I often read the blogs where women have found empowerment by revealing their status and becoming involved as AIDS activists. I admire all of you who are so honest. The mere thought of sharing mine publicly makes me break out in a cold sweat. I know I would lose my job as a teacher, even though I've taught for 25 years and know I'm effective in educating kids.
Yet, I feel I'm living an unauthentic life by having this dark cloud secret hanging over my head. The status has basically paralyzed me as far as having a relationship with a man. Having been rejected once, I certainly don't want that situation again. I felt very vulnerable and fearful that he might tell the wrong person - what if it were to get back to the administration in the school district where I teach?!
The best way I've been dealing with this dishonesty (if you will) has been to co-lead a Gay Straight Alliance club at the high school where HIV is a topic we discuss as a group. Educating young adults and helping them become activists for HIV, Gay rights and bullying has given me some peace.
Additionally, I've allowed myself to be a guinea pig for the AMA. I'm currently in four studies. One study is for a new drug combo. The other studies compliment the first - neurological, physiological, and the most recent - how HIV affects aging. When I decided to do the first drug combo study I couldn't see any reason to NOT participate in the rest. Although it makes for long days and sometimes grueling testing, I guess this is my way to help out. Someday I hope to use my voice. Right now, I'm allowing my body to be used. Now then, where's that study for inflammation!!