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A Cause for Celebration

| 31 Comments

Welcome to my first blog post! I turned 38 years old last month. The day after my birthday, I observed the 16th anniversary of my being diagnosed with HIV. The two events are forever linked, but only recently have I seen a silver lining to that fact.

A little of my back story: I tested negative for HIV in 1991. So when I was diagnosed with HIV in 1992, I knew that Michael was why I had seroconverted. We were in love, but I was naive. He lied about being HIV negative, only revealing to me that he was HIV positive in 1993. He died in 1994 of AIDS-related complications.

Having grown up in New York City as the only son of Roman Catholic immigrants from Cuba, I already had plenty of personal struggles about being gay. HIV only made it that much more difficult to come out about both. I told my parents that I was gay in 1996, but I only told them this year that I was HIV positive.

It was the military that told me that I was HIV positive. I was in the Marine Corps Reserve, a weekend warrior. They had mandatory HIV testing. I was called to active duty the year before for the Gulf War, but fortunately never made it to the Middle East.Marine Corps logo

My commanding officer called me the week before my birthday in 1992, asking if I would volunteer on either Saturday or Sunday. I was immediately suspicious, but only because I believed it would involve much more work than what he said. Little did I know how true that was in a way, but the work would be of quite a different sort.

I asked my commanding officer if I could choose Sunday to volunteer because my birthday was on Saturday. How old, he asked. Twenty-two, I said. A good year, he replied. Sunday is fine, he said, meet me at the base at 7 a.m. sharp. Yes sir, I said.

After I told him that it was my birthday, I noticed a softness in his voice that I had never heard. He was kind enough to let me have one more birthday in ignorant bliss.

I arrived on time, but the base was empty. I was greeted by my superior enlisted officer. He escorted me to the office of my commanding officer. I saluted him and then was quickly told to sit. He informed me that I was HIV positive by reading from a script.

My superior enlisted officer escorted me out of the office. Tell your girlfriend and any other women you’ve been with, he said. What women, I thought. Yes sir, I said.

My birthdays had always been tinged with sadness. After my birthdays the summer would be over and school would begin. Every birthday was now followed by a new birth date, born into the world of HIV and dead to the world of the healthy. Or so I thought.

I’ve since realized that being HIV positive gives me even more reason to rejoice in being a year older. Being alive for one more year is an accomplishment. Being alive despite the best intentions of HIV to the contrary, however, is a cause for celebration.



Oriol on:

31 Comments

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Comments on Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.'s blog entry "A Cause for Celebration"

It was a pleasure to read your first blog entry. You write well. I'll be looking for the next post. Oh, and happy belated birthday.

A cause for celebration, INDEED!

Very weird...diagnosed with HIV the same year, AND we both turned 38 on Friday?! Are we twin?...lol

Thanks for sharing. :)

Welcome to the blogging universe. Very nice first entry, look forward to reading more.

I tested positive the same year and just told my two brothers and their wives a week ago. Funny how it takes some of us a long time to tell the people that we are close to. Really enjoyed what you wrote and look forward to reading all yor blogs!

BTW... just in case no one else has the nerve to say it, wow you are a handsome man!

Thanks everyone for the support, I'm looking forward to sharing more with all of you!

what a story.your attitude is an inspiration to all of us happy birthday,i think you will have many,many more xxguillermo

A very moving story.
Thanks for sharing, we all have memories of that day of being " born in the world of HIV".
Well put.

Cheers from Canada
Greg

Thanks for sharing your personal story Oriol. I found out I was Hiv+ from a certified letter from MD Anderson Hospital in Houston after giving blood. Rather impersonal. But 7 years later, I count my blessings for having contracted subtype B which my own immune system is able to control without the use of meds. I decided to write a comment because I also read a blurb from Mr. Concerned in Heard in the Forums where he asked about "Any Other Neg Partners Who Are With A Positive Partner??"
My ex boyfriend started a website with the intention of creating a resource for just this purpose. www.PositiveandNegativeEmotions.com
To date it has not really gotten off the ground but I think this is a sorely needed resource for all communities. Hiv + men and women are living longer and the chance that a negative person is going to date and or fall in love with an Hiv+ person is highly likely. Yet there are no reasources to support any of these loving couples. Thanks in advance for listening.

Hello Oriol,
Thank you for your story, it brought back memories about me when I found out I was positive, I found out four days after my birthday in February 1995, I got sick in November 1994 and I had just been told in October 1994 that I was negative. Many of us in someway share the same story- the important thing is we are still here and have to continue to go on and help as many brothers and sisters that we can. You know it was very hard for my family to accept the fact that I was gay-then, it was easier for them to accept the fact that I was HIV+, now it has gotten better-the gay part is still somewhat an issue but now they accept me more for who I am not what I am and proud of it. GOD Bless and always guide you on your journey-always know you have a friend in me even though we are miles apart. Take Care.
Raymond

Thanks for sharing your story. I hope it gives you a sense of freedom like it did for me when I opened up to people.
You'll see many more birthdays also, I am 21 years with HIV and doing well. Get your labs checked, take meds if they are prescribed and see your doc regularly and play safe. Oh yeah, eat well too. Looks like you already work out! Otherwise your life hasn't changed guy, don't let this virus get you, you've been through a lot just serving our country so thank you for that also and enjoy your life! You're going to do fine if you keep a poz attitude and keep good medical care. My best to you...Ron

By sharing my story, all I wanted was to give encouragement. I'm thankful for the encouragement I've received in return.

I contracted my virus from an enlisted guy in the army because I, too, was naive. I tested negative in 04, then 2 years later stepped into the HIV world. For me, it was the day after my parents' anniversary which, is also the day after my best friend's birthday. So those events for me also bring a bit of sadness with them. And I am the only son (3 sisters) in a Roman Catholic family. So, I have taken particular interest in your story and I am hooked now. I hope that your parents are able to cope and come to terms with both your sexuality and the recent news of your HIV status. I wish you the best of health and look forward to many more posts from you.

thanks for sharing your story. it's been a year since my diagnosis and although i'm still trying to find my place, it's stories like this that give me hope and inspiration.

thanks for sharing. you are indeed gorgeous..i celebrated my 29 on the 2nd and i was psyched that i made it another year. every day is cause for celebration

Oriol - thank you for sharing your story. I tested positive in 1994 at the age of 23. I will be 38 in November. In fact, I was given my results on April 1st, 1994. I wished it was an April Fools Joke but...talk about irony. I also understand and empathize with your disclosure issues as I am Latino.

Being alive for one more year is most certainly an accomplishment. Our work here is not done yet. Thanks again for sharing your personal story. God Bless!

Happy Belated Birthday and thanks for sharing your story. I was diagnosed in 1995, my closest relatives know, but I choose to not disclose to the public. I have not been in a relationship for years. If I was to get into a serious relationship, my partner will have to know about my status and needless to say I will not have any type of relationship with another if the person is not comfortable with my situation. May you always Be Blessed and May OUR CREATOR GRANT YOU A LONG LIFE.

Patrick

I have never really responded to a blog before and only have glanced at this Email I get once a month but yours got me. This could have been my story almost exactly the same ... I was in the Navy, it was my Executive Officer, and I actually took the call being on quarterdeck watch from the medical officer when he called the ship, knowing the only reason they call is because someone else is positive and the XO is the informer to tell that person to report. When MY name was called over the 1MC not 5 minutes later to report to the XO, I instantly knew ..... it was June 1st, 1992 ... here I am healthy as a horse, thankfully fully medically retired with a full pension, and recently getting a job again as a medical records clerk and enjoying life again and playing with my Dodge Charger .... so thanks for opening up ... glad to know life isnt over for a lot of us ... Here is to another year older, I turn 44 on Sept 21st ... no longer bummed about another year!! THANKS!

Good evening,
I ejoyed your story. It brought back memories of my days in the Navy. I was told my the XO. I tested postive in 1986 before going on a cruise to Rio. I was allowed to stay in the Navy until I medically retired in 1994. I just remember all the active duty people who went to the National Navy Medical Center in the DC/Maryland area as well as San Diego and Porstmouth. I am doing fine. I now live in Las Vegas working in Food Service.

Feliz cumpleanos.Im too a cuban and have been positive since 1990.I know how it feel.I was a single mother of a 6 year boy when I tested positive.My father tried to take my son away from me because of the shame. But we still here
and it have to be for a reason.I am proud of your story.Have many more birthdays.

Kudos Oriol!!! I too was diagnosed after trusting, testing, and the relationship ended with infidelity. (In 1987) I was told I was positive, and about 4 yrs. later, after 1 1/2 yrs. on AZT, I was dying. I decided that if it had to be that way, then so be it. I started getting better immediately absent the AZT (not knocking it, just poison to some of us). Ever since that time the anniversary of my diagnosis is "My Happy Day". A lot of people fail to understand that in 1987, that diagnosis was a 2-3 yr. lifespan, and here I am, 21 yrs later. (Over 15 yrs. now with a NEGATIVE partner) So have your happy days, and as in birthdays..."And Many More!!!!"

your story is very touching,i was also diagnosed
i 1992 my boyfriend at the time did not tell me he was positive until we already had 2 years into the relationship.I too celebrate my new b-day.Have many many more birthdays.Your an inspiration to others.Good luck,wish all the best.

Hi, Oriol, and a happy belated birthday to you. I'm also the son of Cuban immigrants, and we used to live just across the Hudson River (Union City, NJ) from where you grew up. I just turned 39 this year myself and was diagnosed in early 2001. I told my parents and siblings in 2003, and I have to say that I have been touched by their reaction. Every last person has been thoroughly accepting and supportive. Naturally, they were - and continue to be - concerned for me (especially my parents, who are in their 70s), but no one has expressed any fear or judgment, and I have been rejected by no one. I'm very lucky. I also think Cuban families tend to stick by their loved ones no matter what.

By the way, I love your sense of being "dead to the world of the healthy." I've struggled with those kinds of feelings myself. Best of luck with your blog.

HI ORIOL,I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN YOU WERE CUBAN WHEN I SAW YOUR HANDSOME PIC. LOL I LIVE IN MIAMI SOUTH BEACH FROM 1989 -1999 WHERE I PARTIED AND GOT HIV/AIDS/ I THANK YOU THOUGH FOR YOUR BLOG. IT IS 2;30 IN MORNING I CANNOT SLEEP IM SO SAD AND LONLEY BUT YOUR BLOG HELPED. I THINK HEARING EACH OTHER STOREIS HELPS US ALL. I HOPE TO ONE DAY HAVE YOUR KIND OF PSIRIT BACK IN MY VEINS.THANKS. TROY IN TENNESSEE

Hi Oriol,first of all, let me say Happy Belated Birthday! I have never responded to a Blog before, but after reading yours, was touched. I too was diagnose in 1992. I was being prepared for hemmoroidal surgery and the surgeon came and told me the news. Raised up as a black man in a very strice Christian environment,hard to be able to disclose my status to anyone. Took many years to finally not be ashame and enmbarress by this disease. So many different medication and side effects, but now at 53 years old have manage with the grace of God to be still here, and viral load is undetectable. Like yourself, grateful to be able to survive one more day. Wishing you the best always and for all of us out there, "take one day at a time". and keep your head up high. We are all the same!

Oriol,
Very brave of you. Atleast you have had the guts to tell your family about your status - its almost ten years now and I still dont have the guts to do so, though am already divorced from my husband - who infected me and he is pretty sickly and his health raises querries...
Its a challenge - but unlike those early years, I know its no longer a death sentence - my life, just like yours began when I was diagnosed - during a pre-natal clinic - and now a mother of hiv free lovely almost 9 year old.
Life begins, and does not end with HIV!
God Bless.

It's interesting that so many of you, from such different backgrounds, can relate to my story. We all really do have much more in common than we might think.

Oriol, I also learned on my birthday that I was HIV+ and full blown AIDS. I had to be hsp'd. So far, with meds,I feel great and live a "healthy" lifestyle.

Thank you for your honesty I was diagnosed in 1990 a true miracle of survival I, like you , have reason to celebrate my birthday one more time . My work on this hearth is not done yet.

Oriol: Me to, Cuban, your baby pic looks alot like mine, mine is a little older (dob 62'), great story, mine was a bit different, raised in Miami, I was a closeted sucessful Attorney, it happened when I woke up on Feb. 5th 1998, with what turned out to be pneumonia, had my best friend drive me to the ER, where my father was the Physician on duty, I litlerally went in respiratory distress and died and came back, that was ten years ago, now I am still a very successful Attorney,but , I am proud to be out, with a fantastic husband, and a very supportive family. Life has a way of bettering itself when the truth sets you free. Good Luck and Happy Belated Birthday.

I'M 38 MYSELF.I PLAN ON COMING OUT TO MY FAM. THIS YEAR.MY BABY BE HERE IN 2 WEEKS AND WISH TO GIVE A VOICE OF HOPE TO HIV WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD WITH THE HELP OF POZ.IT'S NOT A CURSE BUT A BLESSING.BEING POS. SINCE 2004 HAS GIVEN ME FIRE ,DRIVE AND DETERMINATION TO FIGHT SO HARD FOR MY LIFE.THANKS FOR THE NEVER ENDING INSPIRATION. REGAN AND ORIOL YOU GO!!!

Dear Oriol, you are living inspiration to many people on this planet.I am writing this blog from South Africa, which has probably the highest infection rate of HIV on the African continent. You are very courageous and give hope to many people..be they gay,bi,hetero or whatever and/or HIV+. With all the problems surmounting the world, your words instill a very calming and relaxant effect on a person and one only needs to sit back, take cogniscent, and realise how very lucky most of us are in this universe.May God/godess/all that is, bless you and all those you touch with your hands and inspiring words.

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This page contains a single entry by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. published on September 4, 2008 11:16 AM.

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