"Living with HIV, a person sometimes wants to use it to create that closeness. In my case it was with family…. It has created in me a song that says, ‘I don’t need anyone’…. I still find myself in moments where I feel like an orphan and don’t want to depend on anyone. Having HIV this is a bad idea as we all need support but you can’t help going to that feeling of being a loner after all it is safe and you won’t get hurt…again."
Life’s Lessons With HIV: As he enters into his 28th year living with HIV, Aundaray Guess reflects on 20 lessons he’s learned being positive in a tough world. Our 5 favorites?
1) You’re either living or you’re dying and despite what you heard about HIV, it’s not a death sentence.
3) I am beautiful. As simple as that.
11) Sex is still good.
13) I’m more than HIV.
19) Drinking chocolate milk helps the pills go down easy.
"This season is supposed to be one of merriment and joy but the sad reality is that it’s a reminder of how individuals don’t have a place at the table. But no one should have to feel alone anytime of the year and no one should have to be shunned because of their status. So while you’re at it if you can bring as many chairs that will fit into your bag for all those who feel they don’t belong and by coming together they can see family isn’t always just your blood relatives but the many people who come together for you."
“I rewrote the definitions of ‘what if’ and instead of it ending with a negative conclusion, replacing it with positive outcomes. I had to let go of trying to control the endings and just let it happen and then deal with the ramifications good or bad. And in that moment recognizes it was not the word ‘what if’ that I had issues with but it was the word control. I wanted to be one who decided to reject me. I wanted to control who knew my status…”
The Benefits of Having HIV
Why do certain men in NYC say they actually want/look forward to an HIV diagnosis? And who should we blame for the phenomena? —Those seeking out the disease for financial benefits, or the system that creates their desperation?
In his latest blog post, Aundaray Guess asks: Why are so many gay men showing hate, or “throwing shade” at each other in the community? And what can we do to fix it?
"The process of not having the ability to simply’ be’ based on homophobia leaves many in a repressed state where they have to contain their true selves. Adding HIV to the mix, you know feel further distanced from your own gay community as it’s recognized that within that community lies stigma and rejection based on your status."
Aundaray Guess asks us, in his latest blog post:
"If you were looking at your self image in a mirror and the way you saw yourself where would you reside?
Are you in the basement or in the penthouse of your life?”
So, How can we see ourselves as beautiful with the HIV virus and how can we embrace ourselves despite the circumstances and disadvantages that seem so often to define our lives? How can we fly up to that penthouse and begin our lives free of stigma, shame and our past mistakes?
Prescription Against Stigma
Aundaray Guess reminds us why pharmacies can and should be an invaluable part of any HIV support system & why, despite fears of stigma, he chooses to go local instead of filling his rx’s at impersonal chain stores.
Black Shame and HIV
Aundaray Guess on the struggle to align being black, a man, gay and having HIV.
"It seems for many gay black men there exists an unspoken shame that may be one of the factors that contributes to the rise of HIV"
Blogging Your HIV
“I would have to say one of the greatest tools to help me live with HIV has been the ability to write and share my experience of how it is to live with this disease… by blogging I found a way to express my feelings and create a community of people who could either identify what I was going through or find knowledge of how it was to live with HIV.
Expressing ourselves has many healthy benefits and leads you to a greater place of wellness and acceptance of your HIV status”
-Aundaray Guess, Poz contributor, on how to start blogging.