If I’m being honest, the fact that he didn’t know much about HIV probably turned me off a bit too.And he wasn’t the only date to turn a romantic meal into a classroom session.When I was 13 years old, I remembering telling myself, “I haven’t even kissed a boy and I have an STI.” That’s how the kids in my class and I were taught about HIV, an infection that I’ve had since birth. A bit about me: I’m 24, living in the Greater Toronto Area and a Gemini who works as a freelance journalist. My mother contracted HIV after my father had several affairs, and she was unaware of her status when she got pregnant, gave birth and breastfed me.We both found out that we were HIV positive when we came to Canada in 1995. Over the years, I have learned to accept my status and love myself—but finding partners who feel the same is not always easy.I was working at an HIV/AIDS awareness information fair in Toronto and met a student who was my age.
Disclosing my status sooner rather than later is something I do—not because I plan on sleeping with them right away (of course, if I did that would be OK too)—but because I don’t want either of us to get too invested unless we both know what we’re getting into.When we went out for lunch later that week, I shared that I wasn’t just a volunteer but was also HIV-positive. He had never met someone living with HIV (that he knew of), but I ended up playing the role of advocate instead of romantic interest.He started asking questions about how I got it, about my most horrifying disclosure stories and any recent advances in medicine that might help me. I felt like I should give him a pop quiz afterward.I was not open with any of my peers, even my high school best friend who caught me crying a few times.When my parents died, I didn’t tell people why either. I’ve also been told that I’m “really mature” and “act older than I am,” which I choose to view as compliments.