Hello Beautiful San Diegans! March is here and winter is coming to an end in a couple of weeks! I do not know about you but I am ready for spring to be here. I am excited to be leaving the cold and heading into a season of flowers, new babies, sunny days, and all-around new energy!
I am sure that you have all felt these crazy times since the last time we shared some time together. I sure have felt a switch in energies, and I really think we did some growing and healing. Covid is still here but we do not see the staggering numbers we saw a couple of months ago so I am grateful that things are starting to stabilize for the better. I know that we recently had the mask mandate revised by Governor Newsom. Even though it has been nice to see people smile I hope that people do not get too careless, so we don’t have to go back to wearing masks and shutting things down.
I want to share with you a story of a friend of mine. I was given permission to share, so do not think I am just spilling tea! I have two friends who have been together for four years and recently got engaged last December. They both seem very happy, and I have never seen them argue or have any kind of conflicts. Of course most people will not have that kind of interaction in the public eye. One friend is 36 (for privacy I will call him “Mario”) and the other is 39 (I will call him “Scott”). Both have awesome jobs, both have degrees, and both are very smart, sweet people. Recently they had both been traveling a bit for work with Covid numbers dwindling. My younger friend has recently felt some distancing from his partner and even mentioned to me that their sex dynamic had changed a bit. Scott was getting a little rougher, had a few new kinks he was wanting to try, etc. Mario was open to trying new things, but then the sex kind of stopped. The excuse was that Scott was stressed out with work and was tired, so the normal 3-5 times a week became once every couple of weeks. With them traveling it didn’t seem uncommon. Mario ended up getting Covid and went to the doctor to get a PCR test; when he was there the doctor suggested he book an appointment for a physical.
Fast forward 2 weeks, Mario went into his appointment and had full labs done including STI and HIV testing. While waiting for his rapid test results we were texting back and forth, and he told me that it had been about three years since he had last been tested. I told Mario that he should be tested regularly regardless of being in a monogamous relationship or not. He said he loved the man that he was with, and that Scott would never cheat on him or hurt him. I have trust issues from my personal experience so I am always careful and cautious about these things since my diagnosis, but I understand if others are more trustworthy of their partners. I didn’t want to freak him out or put any doubts into his mind, so I quickly changed the subject. A few minutes later Mario texted that the nurse said he would be right back.
The nurse returned with the doctor and at that moment the doctor told him that his rapid test had come back positive. Mario was in shock and in full denial that Scott would have cheated on him. He told me that he instantly told the doctor that he likes to go out and have fun with his friends and that there were a couple of times where he had way too much to drink and had blacked out at parties and that he wasn’t sure if maybe he had cheated on Scott. He thought of all kinds of situations where this could have occurred and in all of them, he was the person responsible. He was in full denial and demanded that they do the bloodwork and left the office. After his appointment he called me as he sat in his car to ask me about my experience and how I found out.
I tried to calm him down and take some deep breathes. I reassured him that he had a friend in me and that he could count on me to be there for him during this journey if the results came back positive. I asked him if he cheated on Scott during their relationship and he stated that he had kissed a couple of guys but never had sex as far as he could recall, but he still admitted to having blacked out a handful of times at parties. I didn’t judge him as we have all been drunk and it’s really not my place to judge him, I was there to comfort him. After calming him down a bit I reminded him that HIV is no longer a death sentence. Thankfully the medicine we have has come a very long way. I told him a little about my story and how I was also scared, but how I quickly learned to have hope and faith in the medicine and doctors who were treating me. I told him that he needed to tell Scott about his recent diagnosis. He was not willing to do that until he had gotten the blood results back and then he would consider his options. He was pretty shaken up and asked if I could meet him for coffee. I drove up to Orange County to hold space for my friend during his shock.
A couple of days later the results were in and sure enough they were not what he was hoping for. The bloodwork had come back positive. Mario did not understand how this could happen and why this could happen to him. He was still in full denial. He is working with a therapist to understand and accept his recent diagnosis so that he is able to tell his partner. I do not know how Mario got it or if Scott has it too. However, I want to remind others that even if you are in a relationship with someone who you trust and love, it is still a great idea to get tested regularly or get on Prep. I wish that Prep was a medicine available when I was younger, I would have done my best to have been on it. We need to learn how to protect ourselves and educate ourselves. All I ask is that you go and get tested and know your status. I do not want you to think that I am telling you not to trust your partner but just do it as a regular checkup and discuss with your doctor how often you should be tested. Call your local doctor’s office and schedule and appointment, or if you live in San Diego head on over to AHF San Diego and know your status. Stay safe and spread love San Diego!