How I became HIV-positive

Picture it: lonely, 23-year-old black boy has no one to turn to about his burgeoning sexuality.

He’s going through the toughest time of his life while struggling to finish his senior year at UCLA in 1985.

Weeks before graduation, the lonely black boy is feeling especially lonely. He turns to the only outlet he knows: the cruise zones, the dark places where grown men roam, getting relief, and sometimes more than they bargained for.

That night, the black boy meets another man and acquires more than he bargained for—that one, momentarily-not-so-lonely moment in West Hollywood, a stone’s throw from campus.

 “We don’t know much about AIDS, but we do know it’s caused by a virus.”

A short time later, the black boy becomes the only male in his family to graduate college.

In early July, the young black college grad gets a job, a new apartment and a brand new futon. Each night, the young black man soaks the brand new futon in his own feverish sweat, unsure why.

On July 25, a doctor on TV reveals the reason for his night sweats.

Earlier in the day, famous actor Rock Hudson had made his shocking “I have AIDS” announcement. That night, as reporters introduce America to “the deadly disease,” the young black man receives his own personal introduction when a doctor declares:

“We don’t know much about AIDS, but we do know it’s caused by a virus, and night sweats are an early symptom, usually occurring a few weeks after exposure.”

The young black man—age 23, a UCLA graduate of one month—does the math … backwards to that one, momentarily-not-so-lonely moment a few weeks before graduation.

He stares at the television, eyes glazed, realizing he’s infected with “the deadly disease.”