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  • Writer's pictureRemi


Illustration @mehdi_ange_r (INSTAGRAM)

Before the creation of the blog JOURNAL POSITIF, my close friends and family knew about my HIV status, which obviously helped me to move forward and I would like to thank them for the strength they gave me. But even though I was surrounded by people, I still felt a real lack. For a long time I couldn't figure out what it was.

One day I had a conversation on a dating app with a boy, and then we talked about our respective hiv status. We even felt like calling each other because we were both living in isolation without realising it. It's crazy to know that you are understood and heard by someone you don't even know.

Shortly afterwards I met a young woman, M, through one of my best friends (you follow?). We talked a lot, trying to get to know each other, and then naturally we got to talking about our respective love situations. "What about you, do you have someone?"

M told me a bit about his background, his illness (which is not HIV-related) which, like mine, is not necessarily visible. What struck me in our exchange were the similarities in the rejections that she too faces when she confides in us. I must admit that I was overwhelmed by her testimony because I immediately felt connected to her.

What finally brought us together? Our suffering probably and above all a desire to live even more strongly.

It's terrible, but even if I had the most marvellous entourage, what I was looking for all this time was someone like me, who resembled me, simply because it feels good to feel totally understood without even having to speak. M was sending me a strong message. "You have to live intensely and love". She may not have said it, but that's what I heard.

At the very beginning of the infection, my doctor had advised me to talk to a shrink, if ever... I didn't feel the need. I went to see the AIDES association with my best friend, I wanted to make myself useful, even if I didn't know how.

I was doing things the wrong way round. I didn't understand that if I wanted to help others, I would first have to accept everything that was going on, that it would be a long road and that one day I might have the strength to help those who needed it.

I started this blog simply because if I had come across these kinds of stories ten years ago, I might have accepted my HIV status better.

I've had a lot of messages in the last three weeks. I haven't had any negative messages.

Some HIV-positive people have thanked me for speaking out when they couldn't. One boy wrote to me saying that I was a very good person. One boy wrote that I was going to help change the world. Another said he admired me. Some HIV-negative people told me that they felt like they were discovering what it was like to "live with HIV in 2018".

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm very uncomfortable when people tell me that I'm admired or that I'm strong and courageous. I didn't start the JOURNAL POSITIF to receive all this love, I started it to make people like me feel less isolated and to enlighten people about HIV and my reality. Nevertheless, I am happy to accept all the kindness you offer me.

In the collective imagination, HIV is still synonymous with "death". Unfortunately, this is still the case when a person is not tested in time, but for all the others, those who are HIV positive, who are under the care of a doctor and who are taking treatment, life does not stop, and neither do the dreams.

If you knew everything I've been through in the last ten years, I can assure you that nothing is impossible. At first I thought "my life is over", and I realised that it was the opposite.

I would not trade my life with anyone since I got HIV.

Tragic moments happen to all of us. The important thing is to turn our pain into strength.

I gave two interviews this week. One for a young journalism student and one for TÊTU magazine. I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to deliver the message I wanted to. It's a complicated exercise to reveal yourself to a stranger in front of a camera or a microphone.

However, I am no longer afraid to show my face, to make my voice heard. This is how I feel today. I'm relieved that I don't have to whisper when I talk about HIV in a café, I'm relieved that I don't have to be afraid of announcing that I'm HIV positive. It's my choice and I'm fully aware that some people don't understand and think I'm "showing off".

Just know one thing: I'm not just doing it for me, I'm doing it for you.

If we continue to remain silent, no matter what cause we ultimately defend, we will not advance mentalities. By writing, by telling my story, I only aspire to that.

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