U EQUALS U

U EQUALS U

“…and because you are undetectable…” the doctor was talking.

And for a moment, I tuned out the rest of what he was saying, allowing myself to fixate on those three beautiful words.

You are undetectable.

The doctor said those words with the offhand countenance of one who didn’t know that this was my first time hearing them.

You are undetectable.

I am undetectable.

I took a moment to savour those words, to feel them, to make them my own.

The doctor was talking to me about something unrelated to my HIV status, but because it was regarding my health, he mentioned that, just to give his consultation some context. He was new to my healthcare, and had no way of knowing that in all the 9 years since I embarked on the journey of living with HIV, I’d never once asked to know if or been told that I was undetectable.

I am undetectable.

Feeling that reality become mine filled me with a rush of euphoria such as I’d never felt before. They say that when you are faced with sudden death, your mind is thrown into a maelstrom of flashbacks of some of the most poignant moments of your life.

But what happens when you are injected with a sudden new lease of life? What flashbacks do you see?

I saw that moment in December 2012, when I found out that I was HIV Positive; when I went to meet a potential hookup at a healthcare seminar where he was working, and when during the lunch break, he asked if I wanted to take a HIV test, I said yes, believing that I couldn’t possibly be positive.

But of course, I was. He gave me the news that broke my heart and ended my world.

I saw that moment when I was registering at a hospital for my medication and the attendant asked me for my contact person. I’d recoiled from the question, fear exploding in my heart as I thought of a circumstance where anyone in my life would ever get to know about my status. I was certain that I’d rather die first before I’d ever tell anyone that I had HIV.

I saw the moment when my dream of working in Zenith Bank died. I remembered the devastation that slowly began building up as first, after my medicals, I wasn’t recalled, and yet I’d heard that a couple of friends I passed the interviews with had started work. That devastation began to grasp my soul when upon pressure from the uncle who linked me to the employment opportunity, the bank’s HR asked me to go redo the medicals. The devastation became complete, wrecking my insides when I handed the results to the HR executive and saw from his expression that this was the reason I would never work with them.

I saw the moment – those moments when my guardians, after learning from that uncle the reason Zenith Bank rejected me, started changing their attitude toward me. Their startling ignorance, the separation of my plates, cutlery and cup from that of the rest of the house, the relocation of my room from the one I shared with my cousin to one of mine alone, their eventual urging for me to leave their house – these moments of stigma that condemned me.

I saw the moment when I first told a potential lover that I was HIV Positive. He had come over. We had kissed. Our passions were raging, but I was afraid. My heart was beating with a mixture of desire and dread as I contemplated what I must tell him. I wanted so very much not to. I probably wouldn’t have; we were already naked, writhing about in pleasure. Then his insistence for us to go bareback caused me to find my resolve. And I told him.

And lost him.

I saw the moment when the doctors confirmed that those times when my denial and mental exhaustion caused me to reject my drugs had resulted in the first-line ARVs no longer working for me, and I had to be moved to the second-line medication, followed by a series of stern counseling.

“You can’t let this virus defeat you,” the counselor once said urgently to me. “Resist what it’s doing to your mind, and I promise you, you will live.

I saw a flashback of all the moments that broke me down because of who I’d become: a person living with HIV.

However, I saw a flashback of the good too. The kindness in my father’s eyes when he found out.

The support in my best friend’s voice when I talked to him about it.

The deep kiss my then ex-boyfriend gave me after I told him, and then he pulled back and said with a chuckle, “You’re totally still fuckable.”

The tears my mother shed when my dad told her years later, and she wanted me to forgive her for ever making me feel like I couldn’t have come to her with this.

The strength I felt when a close friend broke down before me, shattered at having just discovered that he was HIV Positive, and I could hold him close and tell him with conviction that everything was going to be alright.

The stories I read on Kito Diaries about the courage of other people like me who are living with HIV, and living well.

These are the moments that built me back up every time I felt beaten down by the negative aspects of my reality.

And in all this time, with all the appointments at the hospital and reviews of my test results, I’d never once asked, and curiously, I’d never been told. I don’t know why I didn’t want to know… Maybe because I was afraid… Fear over how bad things got, that I had to be switched to the second-line medication… Fear that the hope I was waking up and going to bed with would be shattered by an answer I didn’t want to hear.

So I never asked. And I never knew.

Until that day when my doctor said those words while poring through my file.

You are undetectable.

I am undetectable.

Now I know.

Now I am alive.

Written by Dubem

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  1. Z w a h k
    December 01, 08:22 Reply

    Congratulations, I know how difficult it is when you have a severe illness of a chronic sort and reading Post like this makes me so happy, I hope you have a really good time this holiday season and that you continue to remain undetectable for a very long time and can enjoy all that life has to offer, take care!

  2. Z w a h k
    December 01, 08:24 Reply

    That’s wonderful news oh, I’ve had friends with this disease and it’s always wonderful news to know that you’re going to have many years ahead of you, I hope you enjoy the holiday season and embrace life for however you may

  3. Lopez
    December 01, 08:28 Reply

    You’re undetectable Dubem, you’re strong. It wasn’t easy, I know, but you’re fine. Congratulations.

  4. O.B
    December 01, 09:27 Reply

    Awwww. That’s really beautiful.
    I hope you continue to live a beautiful, fabulous life.
    Did you hear the news about the new injection option for HIV, where you take an injection every two months, instead of tablets per day?
    Slowly, but surely, a cure will be find, and HIV will become quite insignificant.

    Sorry for all the stigma you had to go through. I hope all those people are better enlightened, currently.

  5. Francis
    December 01, 13:19 Reply

    Congratulations. here’s to staying Undetectable 🍾🥂

  6. Michael
    December 01, 21:27 Reply

    This is usually the haul mark for me as a case manager for PLHIV. telling my clients that they are either suppressed or undetectable congratulations Dubem. continue to pop those pills and liveeeeeee.

  7. bamide
    December 01, 22:52 Reply

    Congratulations to you Dubem.
    This is really a great news.
    By the way, I am surprised that banks asks for health results and denied you employment, even though it is not for air situation. na was ooo

  8. Oba of Benin
    December 03, 08:29 Reply

    First it was Military positions that request such health status and now Banks?? not to mention the peanuts they pay. Nigeria tends to be the greatest critic to HIV

  9. Luke
    December 05, 03:48 Reply

    Am also feeling the same way, have been living with it since 2014. Second line drug also but I never told anyone about my health status. I was given alot of slot on banking job but I never accept one because of the medical test involved.
    Am always depressed anytime I remember that I was jobless due to this virus but I pray I get a job offer soonest. Congratulations to U Man .

  10. RayPianistGuitarist
    January 12, 12:30 Reply

    Don’t forget you are a shinning star… nothing can quench your light! Go out there and shine dear….I love you

  11. Big bee
    January 21, 21:38 Reply

    Ever since I heard about my status then in 2016 I’ve never cried but I did reading this cause I recently got dumped by someone I cared about cause i dared to be honest with them about my status.

    • Francis
      January 22, 10:46 Reply

      Sorry to hear that man but you did yourself a huge favor. The heartbreak would probably have been immense if you had invested a lot in said individual. With these things it’s best to know what you’re dealing with as soon as possible before things get to deep.

      Hopefully he comes around with some education or you find someone else 🙏🏾

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