In this short documentary shared by ACAS, Asian Community AIDS Services organization based in Toronto, Canada, four men share their stories on their experience of finding out they were positive and how they came to cope with the diagnosis.
Kenneth – Finding out that he was HIV+ in 1986 felt “almost like a death sentence.” When someone says him “you are a long-term survivor”, he responds “I am not just a long-term survivor, but I am surviving”. “There is still a lot of discrimination with HIV, especially within the Asian community.”
Christian – Initially becoming depressed by the diagnosis, Christian did not want to seek treatment at first. He had yearned for meaningful forms of connection with other men – “love, friendship, camaraderie” – and he also equated sex with that. But the rejection he experienced from the gay community influenced how he cared for himself in terms safer sex. If sharing his story “could touch one other person in a positive way – then it would have been a worthwhile cause for me.”
Andrew – While aware he was attracted to men at an early age, he joined a church to deal with his feelings but at 24 years old started to explore his sexuality – making friends and being flattered by the attention he received. He thought of “HIV as a gay disease and as a punishment” but after his HIV+ diagnosis had to start thinking about his life again.
James – As if three minority statuses were not enough (gay, Asian and disabled), James wondered if this 4th status of HIV+ was the one to crack him. But in fact, his experience with being a minority in several communities was a strength; “I will either be owned by this or own it”. “When I choose to disclose to someone, I sometimes get ‘I am sorry’ but it feels like a judgment statement, maybe I am not sorry anymore. It is not what it used to be and I don’t feel this is the right response when I tell someone.”
If you live in Toronto, ACAS is an incredible resource for persons living with HIV/AIDS and persons of the LGBTQ communities.