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I live in Oakland — in the middle of an invisible epidemic. I want to spread a message of hope, but it’s not easy.
I’m a sexually active, gay, black man. I don’t always useprotection and sometimes I regret it. I joined a study that provided me with Truvada — a pill to protect against HIV.Studies show that if you take the pill every day, it’s over 90 percent effective in preventing the infection.
But when I tell acquaintances that I’m on the pill, they say, “Why are you on medication — are you HIV positive?” But I’m just trying to take an active role in protecting myself from something that’s already affecting my community.
Misconceptions like this make me want to keep the pill as my little secret. And I wasn’t asked to promote it. Butif I want to see an end to the virus, I have to share what I know and overcome the fear of being stigmatized.
Since I’ve been on the pill, I’ve had more conversations about protection with my partners. And while this pushes me out of my comfort zone, I know I’m doing some good.