My talents are few; I suck at a lot of things but for whatever reason, my body is really good at fighting HIV.
So when my doctor suggested I might want to consider going on meds to let my immune system focus on other things, I said I’d get back to him.
Six months later I did.
After asking the opinion of everyone I knew who is on meds, I had pretty much decided in March not to go on them. With my luck, they would probably have the opposite effect and attack me from within.
But then I noticed something.
On the dating sites where an HIV status is provided, lots of guys identify as “undetectable” and lots of negative guys think it’s “okay.” I know this is going to sound really shallow but, if I started meds, I could easily expand my playing field by about a third.
A third! That’s a lot of guys!
There was still this part of me that felt like I was in The X-Men: a potion exists that can cure me of a stigma that hinders my movement in society but informs my perception of the world. How much of myself am I willing to give up to be like everyone else, and at what cost?
But something else prevailed. Apropos of nothing at all, I wanted to hear the words “You are undetectable.”
I also decided to start using Rogaine. If I’m going to be undetectable, then I might as well fill in the brown patch on the top of my head. Anal bleaching, anyone?
When I tell my doctor I’ve decided to take his advice, he tells me, “You’ll need to see me every three months to monitor the side effects. None of these six and eight month stretches.”
He grabs his pad and a pen and is about to write out the prescription but stops before ink meets paper.
“I know this is going against everything I’ve been telling you these last months, but I’m hesitant to treat you. I’m afraid that if I put you on meds you’ll get some horrible side effect, and that would make me feel really bad.”
Where have I heard this before? Oh, that’s right, I said it.
“Does that mean I don’t have to lose 20 pounds?”
“You’re still fat. I just don’t think you should be on meds right now.”
This was supposed to be a story about what it is like to be undetectable. I was supposed to be dancing barefoot in the park in soft lighting, like a tampon commercial. I was supposed to have been transformed.
Instead, I remain among the marginalized, bald spot and all.