People I love and talk to about my status do not always have the language or tools to express their grief and worry. They ask things like, “How could you be so irresponsible?” Or, “How could you fuck up like this?”
I am HIV positive, and I don’t blame anybody for it—not myself or anybody else.
He didn’t rape me and he did not trick me. It was through our unprotected sex that I became HIV positive. Since seroconverting, I have been very conscious of the language I use to discuss transmission, particularly my own. To say “he gave me HIV” obscures the truth, it was through a mutual act, consensual sex, that I became HIV positive. When speaking to him a couple months after my diagnosis I gathered that he knew he was positive when we had sex. But that is beside the point; my sexual health is mine to control, not his.
We are encouraged to think about prevention and transmission in terms of responsibility. Someone must be at fault. Culturally, we hunt for secret villains. Today’s “down low” black man is but the latest boogeyman at which we’ve pointed our fingers—the latest of the so-often racialized monsters at which we can direct HIV blame rather than have honest conversations about sex and relationships.
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