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A long fight

I was only 23 years old when I was diagnosed with HIV, but the doctors called the disease Gay Cancer or Grid. I will never forget the reaction of the doctor, he said "You have this illness DO NOT TELL ANYONE", he then left the room and one nurse whom I will never forget held my hand and calmed me down so I could take more tests. I have had many surgeries, unrelated to HIV, I have been sick but never hospitalized because of my illness. Needless to say I DID tell everyone, not to get pity but to show myself as well as others that I AM SOMEONE WHO MATTERS!!! and that I am the same loving person I always have been. I have had family members who have not spoken to me since then, and I have many straight friends who love me the same if not more. I am now 41 years old and contrary to what is said on the news and in most communities, AIDS is still a stigma or a brand you must carry for the rest of your life. It will stop you from getting most employment opportunities offered to others because most employers require a physical, it will not allow you to get the same health benefits or insurance offered to others. I have tried to be an active member of my community, helping to organize the first AIDS organization in my area. I am for the most part a healthy productive individual with a loving mother, father and three sibilings who look at the virus as a misfortune, and not a curse. I would like to say to all who read this stay strong, take care of yourself, and don't overdo the partying. I grew up in an age when drugs and drink were the norm. But, those days are over, it is time now to live in moderation and respect others. Foremost ALWAYS disclose your HIV status to potential partners. It will be a long fight, but ignorant people will only make you stronGER.

Mark Fuselier (a fellow survivor) Lake Charles LA

Sent via Email July 17, 2004 from Louisiana, USA.

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