The concept of identity is intriguing and mysterious. The core of our identity is built upon those aspects of life with which we literally identify; with which we relate and take enjoyment from. The remaining portion of identity is composed of what defines us, despite an elicited positive emotion. It is this latter portion, a composite of constructs apart from the core, where the identity of being HIV positive appears to fall.
Identifying all or part of ourselves with the diseases by which we suffer is only natural and expected. Daily treatment regimens, visits to the physician's office, hospital visits and so on, change to some degree the people who we are, as we're required to change to accomidate the necessary behaviors unbenknownst to us until now. With HIV infection there's an additional weight of anxiety over being constantly, though not consistently, tormented by the social stigma that remains regarding HIV. Still with all the adaptation required to move forward, one change which is most crucial and required is the ability to persevere no matter the obstacle, and to learn to see the best of the most absolute worst. My identity as a gay man has largely remain unknown even to me. Though I am 'out' and have dated, for longer than not I have been single and without anyone (or thing) more than my dog. For what it's worth, I don't tend to keep plants either. And many believe continue to believe that the HIV virus is discriminatory against homosexuals, despite all data and common sense stating the opposite; it holds no bias against its host. However, oddly enough, my identity as an HIV positive person is entirely independent of my gay identity. Because HIV does not discriminate I do not find a commonality between my being HIV positive and a gay person.
When I was tested positive for HIV I was shocked, but somehow always sensed the very real possiblity of that moment; afterall, unless blind to both sight and touch we're all aware of what behaviors we engage in. The term, and status, applied to me after that moment as being 'HIV positive' grouped me into two different categories – one, a statistic and two, a label. I quickly realized that first, everyone is a statistic in some man's study, and secondly we label ourselves everyday, both figuratively and literally for some who consider designer clothing of being of high importance. I also learned though that the label 'HIV positive' meant something very much for my generation; a generation where a diagnosis results in managable treatment, and not a death sentence. I learned that fighting to create awareness and observe advancements in medical research really means something, to you and to someone else. I closely identify my status of HIV positive with a group of individuals whom very basically refuse to idely stand by and lay down their arms while an enemy ravishes and pillages their community. Fighting not just to survive but to understand results in not having to fight at all, and that should be the goal of everyone.
My new identity is unfortunate, and not ideal in any which way; however, I am grateful for what it has tought me. The application of persuading people around the world to see past labels and understand their neighbors, though unrealistic, should not be failed in attempt. Because ultimately failing isn't losing; failing is not trying.