A text message from a friend in the afternoon:
“I’m handling this quite well.”
“Handle what, sweetie?”
And then he called. Apparently he and his boyfriend tested for HIV last week and went back to the lab to get the results today. The boyfriend’s negative. He isn’t.
He sounded fine on the phone, explaining that he and his boyfriend plan to stay together and ‘somehow weather through this although the boyfriend is increasingly paranoid because he’s not ready’.
That sounded alarm bells in my head.
Still, I couldn’t bring myself to tell someone who had just been told that he’s HIV positive that there’s a big chance his boyfriend’s going to leave him. So instead, I said what I could and told him that it’s not the end of the world, not even close; that even though this is now a part of him, it doesn’t define him. And that now it’s time for him to think about the things he wants to and can do and do them. And that no matter what, good friends will always stay and follow through.
It’s never easy, is it, this damn disease? Mostly because of the social stigma attached to it and the fear and paranoia it triggers. As if it isn’t hard enough already.