This is my story and how things came to be…

c294082ceb89b0c8809b2b655b82ed7c_3It was January 2008 when I went to boot camp at Parris Island, SC. to join the United States Marine Corps. I went in knowing I was gay and was proud of it. On February 23, 2010 I was diagnosed with HIV. It was a life changer for me. I didn’t know where to turn or who to go to. This is the story of what happened to when being a gay Marine, I was diagnosed with HIV.

I was on pre-deployment leave for a total of two days when my LtCol called me personally on my cell phone. To say the least I was a bit surprised because here I am an LCpl (E-3) getting a phone call from my Co. (commanding officer). I was told he was flying me back to San Diego the very next day due to “legal” matters. I kind of had an idea at the time but I was not willing to admit it to myself. I never thought that something like this could happen to me. I was scared that this was going to be the last time I saw my family before my first deployment and I only had the chance to spend two days with them.

I arrived in San Diego on February 23, 2010 and was picked up by the DNCO (duty noncommissioned officer) at the airport. I was taken directly to the Squadron where I meet with my Co. I was then informed that during my pre-deployment blood screening my results came back to show that I had contracted HIV. I was mortified and no words can explain what I was feeling at the time. I wanted to ask God what I had done to deserve this and “why me”. I had always told myself since I realized I was gay at the age of 14 that nothing like this would ever happen to me and if it did then I would end it. At the time I was so confused and hurt that I really wanted to end it, I wanted to take my life and put this all in God’s hands.

To make matters worse when I was told I was taken directly to the hospital to see an Infectious Disease Doctor even before the news had time to sink in. That was all fine and well once I talked to my new doctor, but then I was taken back to base. I was left in my barracks room for a solid week alone, no one to talk to, no support group, and not knowing where to turn. I was alone in life for the first time I could ever remember. I was scared to tell my parents what was really going on because I didn’t want them to hate me or more yet be scared of me. I shut myself off from the world. I started to drink every night to try and numb the pain that I was feeling inside. For a week I was my only company, just me and my thoughts to help pass the time. I had nowhere to turn and nowhere to run. On top of it all I was beating myself up because here I was a gay man at the age of 24 trying to live in a straight man’s world and act like I was no different than anyone else who joined the Marine Corps. I have learned now I am not different than anyone else, I am serving my country and doing what I feel like I need to do to better my life and that of my fellow countrymen.

After my first week I started what they call Initial Evaluations at NMCSD (Naval Medical Center San Diego). It was a two week process where I went through classes with other Marines and Sailors who are in the same situation as I am. These classes were the world to me because they showed me that I am not alone. I was not the only gay man in the military to get HIV. I learned so much through these classes and made a lot of good friends who are even there for me today. I learned everything from living with HIV to the different medication. I learned that this was not the end and that I could live a full life with having HIV. So here I am a gay Marine with HIV.
After my two weeks were up at the hospital I was put on two weeks of convalescence leave to give me time to adjust to my new diagnosis. I spent those two weeks with a guy in the Navy I had met during my second week of classes. He was there for his yearly evaluations. He and I started dating and sooner than expected I was living with him. Things moved way too fast and I think back and I believe part of it had to do with I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I was still scared. After my two weeks of leave were up I did not return to work. I told the hospital that I had and I told work I was still at the hospital. I was scared. I didn’t want to go back. I was scared people were going to find out and judge me. It is hard enough being gay in the Marines but having HIV made it even harder to keep my personal life my own. I went UA (unauthorized absence) for two months. It is not something I am proud of but I just couldn’t bring myself to face the people that I had worked with. Like I said I was scared.

I finally went back to work and confessed what I had done. It was another hard time for me and one I am not proud of. I was a total mess and didn’t know again what to do. That day that I went back to work and told them of what I had done they took me back NMCSD and I was placed in the psychiatric ward. In all I was in the ward for 3 months because I was scared to face the world and scared to face the fact that I was gay and had HIV.

I finally got discharged when I was ready and have been picking my life up ever since. I have done things I am not proud of but I truly believe that I am a better person due to the things I have learned. I was medically retired from the Marines in 2011 and have moved back to North Carolina, where I am currently enrolled in school and perusing a degree in Information Security Technology.

I started writing a blog about my situation soon after I was diagnosed and have been doing updates on it regularly in hopes to not only tell my story but to show others they are not alone.

19 Comments on Home

  1. Hey there,
    My name is Rebecca. I am an HIV?AIDS positive activist.
    I made this film: Blood lInes (www.blood-lines.org)., perhaps you have heard of it or seen it?
    Its been a big success in high schools and middle schools as a powerful prevention piece, i am very happy it became so popular.

    However, It is now fairly outdated and I am currently running an indiegogo campaign to help raise the needed funds to edit and re-shoot and make Blood Lines current.

    I came across your blog and thought maybe you could help spread the word if you felt inspired.

    Here is the link tot he campaign:

    igg.me/at/bloodlinesupdate

    Let me know if you find this of interest in any way.

    All the best,
    Rebecca

  2. I found out I was HIV pos in the bad days of the 80’s. 1985. I feel so badly for you guys that have to suffer so much still now. But take heart in at least this. Treatment for you is simple and effective. You’re not the Guinea pigs we were. And I’m hardly unique. There’s thousand’s of men my age that made it. Some very damaged goods, but that’s what mental health care is for. I did. Had depression/anxiety and knew it. And wanted it gone. But, can lead a horse to water, etc. if the VA won’t help you, you have the right to go outside the system. Never be put ‘on hold/wait listed’ by any health care system. Two weeks to be seen is the max.

    • I was hurt by a much older man. We agreed on oral and he came with no warning still soft and he told me he used me. He had it for years and took me down with him

  3. I saw and read your post. I work n security and I am pretty much all alone. One parent in his late 80s I’m taking care of then that’s it just me. Indiana where I live is Not gay friendly and being positive I am treated more like a biohazard. Find I guy I’m interested in and tell him m positive well it’s goodbye.
    I’ve often thought of tossing the meds and saying the hell with it. Work alone, home and bed alone I mean I’ve tried so hard and can’t even feel the touch of someone that cares so I understand at least some of what you went through. Best of luck to you

    • I am sorry about your circumstances. There were many times when I wanted to stop taking meds or I didn’t even want to start them in the first place. I truly know how you feel and what you are going through. Even though I am surrounded by family and friends, I feel alone most of the time. I would love to find that one person who I am meant to spend the rest of my life with but until that person comes along I keep living each day to it’s fullest and trying to be the best person I know how to be.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I came across your site by luck and am thankful for it. I am Active Duty National Guard (AGR) and I received my HIV diagnosed in November 2013. I have never felt so alone, confused and scared in my life. My State HQ has been no help they’ve done nothing they were supposed to do as of yet. I’ve taken it upon myself to be proactive on everything. I’ve found a great ID doctor and have been on MEDs since March and it looks like I’m at or near undetectable (which I will find out this month). I try and read everything I can get my hands on cause it helps me especially listening to other soldiers stories. Reading regulation can be very confusing sometimes but I study them. I know as AGR I fall under AR 600-110 Chapter 6 which is the section for Active Duty. But sometimes I think my State HQ doesn’t know that, cause as I said earlier they have done nothing for me. I’ve done it all. But it can be over whelming sometimes. I search online for soldier stories about their HIV experiences but finding them has been a stretch. I know we’re not alone, but sometimes it feels that way. Well sir take care of your self and I look forward to reading more from your site.

    • It is always a great idea to take a proactive stance when it comes to your own health. I hope things are starting to get a little more back to normal with everything. The first 6 months to a year are always the hardest. Please e-mail me or contact me via Twitter and I will give you some more resources about HIV Positive Military Members.

      Brian

    • Good Evening SSG I’m also SSG on Active Duty National Guard (AGR) and I received my HIV diagnosed on 21 April 2011, after my PHA lab results came back from EAMC. My story began in the afternoon of 21 April 2011 16:00 hrs when I received a call from Primary Care Provider from the Base AHC, asking me to be at the clinic the next morning at 07:00hrs. At this moment I had a no idea that I was HIV+ instead I was certain that I had some kind of cancer since all my family has a history of cancer and my little sister had just die from ALL. Next morning I arrive to the clinic at 06:30 after my PT time, my PCP was there waiting for me, I enter her office and; my new life have just begun. She was very kind and spent almost 2 hours with me also gave me a counselling and she was the one who called my CO, we wait until he got to the Clinic and she received him and oriented him on my HIV+ diagnose, UCMJ, confidentiality, She make sure he understands his obligation to protect the confidentiality of that information and the need to ono basics. Then from her office she escort me to the Clinic Mental Health, Psychology, where I was counsel for tree hours, then release for lunch and to come back for other labs before sending me to Ft Gordon EAMC, for my ID Clinic, and to be evaluated by my ID Doctor, for the first time. In my state and in the AHC they have been very supporting ever since I was diagnosed. Also my case manager always coordinate my visit to the ID Clinic every six months and she has been very supportive to include my MEDS refills on the clinic, labs before arriving to the EAMC ID Clinic. My HQ’s reassigned me to a TDA Unit (non deployable) I was int the Unit for tree years now they assigned me to another TDA closer to home. My boss is very supportive and I’ve never feel any stigma from him. Just read AR 600-110 chapter 6 this regulation established policies on HIV, from Unit Commander’s to NGB etc. In 3 years and 4 months I have never been stigmatise at work, I still doing my CTT, WQ (expert), APFT 260 to 280, etc.

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