My name: Jon
Occupation: Waiter and hopefully soon-to-be graduate student
A little known fact about me: I am an avid rock climber.
How I found out I was positive: I tested HIV positive in April of 2001.
How I was infected: I do know who infected me. It was (at the time) the great love of my life. Someone once told me that the greatest contributor to the spread of HIV isn’t ignorance, it’s love. I am living proof of that. In order to demonstrate my love for this man, I was willing to repeatedly risk my life. This was exacerbated by my complete lack of information and inability to see past my own invincibleness.
My Deciding Moment: In the first few years after testing positive, I began using crystal meth every day of the week. I had no job and was living on a friend’s couch. I had nothing. I was nothing. One day I opened my eyes, and for the first time in years I could see clearly. I decided that I wanted to live. It was at this point that I really started to take my health seriously.
How I am Greater Than AIDS: Rising above my illness and being a beacon of light. It’s about using the experiences in my life to better the lives, and decisions, of those around me.
What I’ve learned from living with HIV: When I began using crystal meth, I found solace in the escape that drugs provided. My ever-increasing drug use spun out of control and it ultimately brought me to a therapist. That therapist not only helped me get clean, but she also gave me the strength to believe in myself. It was this strength that allowed me to unfurl my wings and move across the country, to a place where I knew no one and nothing. The move brought me to the AIDS/Lifecycle, which brought some of the most amazing people into my life while giving me a purpose.
What I want someone who is HIV negative to know about me: I’m just like everyone else and my disease doesn’t give people allowance to act rudely. I would urge them to remember to use respect and tact – that we’re already part of a subjugated community.
What I would tell someone who recently found out they were HIV positive: I want to encourage others who are positive and struggling that life goes on, and the disease doesn’t have to signify death, but can be the start of a rebirth.