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It's Conditional


There was a law student named Schwartz

whose face was all covered with warts

But in his interstices he had a much worse disease

That he caught from a teacher of torts.


-         Anonymous



Thirty two years ago (a rough reckoning based on risk behavior) I managed to infect myself with a virus that came to be known as the cause of "Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome" - HIV. I was not yet thirty years old. 

Left untreated, HIV the virus causes HIV disease - the slow, steady and irresistible apoptosis of the cells that defend us from god-knows-what is out there in the world, trying to move in to our flesh and quite literally eat us out of house and home.

I will soon be sixty-two. In the half-life that I've now lived with it, I've probably experienced many of the same feelings and fears, heartbreaks and hopes, that you have, as well as those unique to my personal journey. The one thing that we all definitely share, no matter how much we may deny it, is of course, the experience of being thought of by the non-infected as "tainted".


It's such an ugly word.  Among the entries that you'll find if you use a thesaurus are "sickness", "pestilence", "contagion", "  -  and everyone's worst nightmare, "plague". 

It's no wonder that we are stigmatized. Nobody wants The Plague in their house. Sweep it out the front door. Lock your doors. Hide the wimmen and chil'n!

It doesn't, and shouldn't, have to be that way. There are better words to describe us. Words that are less...dirty.

I prefer to think of it as a "condition." Half the human race has one condition or another, and if we see our HIV as just one of the many such conditions that exist, it can make a difference in our interactions with other human beings, or at least those whose consciousness isn't limited to the Cliff Notes version of life.

So henceforth, if you ask me if I have a condition, I'll just say "yeah. I do, what about you?"


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Comments on David Weiss's blog entry "It's Conditional"

David, I love this! I tested positive in Feb. 1990. I was 19. Because I learned I was + only a few months after being infected (another term I intensely dislike.... "infected"), and I was a healthy and young (with good health insurance and access to healthcare -- both of which I know so many others in our situation don't have), I was told that for me, having HIV would be a chronic condition, not a fatal illness. I was told I would need to monitor and manage it, but that it was absolutely not a death sentence. Being told that from the get-go set the tone for everything after that. I'm 42 now, still healthy, and have never considered having HIV as anything other than a "condition."

Thank you for affirming that!

Hello David,

This is one of the most beautiful pieces that I've read regarding HIV and it inspired me. I am 27 and I was diagnosed when I was 22. But still, I am a happy person.


I cannot thank you enough for this. I have been poz now for a year, and the 1 year reminder was this week. I have been avoiding the fact that I have a condition, because I have been thinking I have this disease. The fact that Diabetes is more accepted in society over hiv angers me each day. I am going through the emotions all over again this year, and looking for advice and wisdom. This blurb is so powerful, I cannot thank you enough, because at the end of the day it is all on how you word things.

This stigma and use of "language" I argue has also led to an increase in Criminalization of Transmission.

More people in the United States die of Hep C than HIV/AIDS...yet more and more Positive people are being pushed into prison.

Many of the HIV Specific laws in numerous states have not caught up with medical science.

If your HIV +, on HAART, have undetetable Viral Load and still wear a can still be charged and placed in prison. Even if transmission DOES NOT OCCUR !!!

Its so important to disclose your HIV Status not only to prevent being charged and placed in prison but its also important to END STIGMA

And this article is one of many which is helping to breakdown HIV/AIDS Stigma.

AIDS ACTIVISM has indeed changed sine the 1980's. But I argue that the increased issue of Criminalization of HIV Transmission is concerning. Lets turn this concern into ACTION.

Lets make Larry Kramer and the "old guard" of AIDS ACTIVISM proud.



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This page contains a single entry by David published on August 30, 2012 6:34 AM.

Is a cure for Hep C a matter of money? was the previous entry in this blog.

The Rabbit Hole is the next entry in this blog.

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