My name is Naimah O’Neal and I have been living with HIV since 1992. Twenty-seven years! Sometimes, I still find it hard to believe. If someone had asked me twenty-seven years ago if I could foresee being the woman I am today, I would have said no way. Today, as a woman of color, I use my voice to bring a face to this virus. With this first blog, I want to share a poem that I wrote a year ago to express the impact HIV criminalization has had on my life. The poem is entitled: Who’s sleeping in My BED with ME! I am not asking you to understand or accept the words, just know that I fear the world more than you should fear me.
Who’s Sleeping in my Bed with Me?!
The life that I feel with HIV can change depending on who needs Me!
My children and family love me so HIV is great for Me!
On my JOB HIV is a full, mixed bag of questions and sympathy towards me. Let’s face it, people are people, who have questions about how I obtained it. This is an educational moment for ME!
Going out with friends is a piece of cake for me, because having fun is more important than HIV for ME!
Some people say, “Then girl! WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM?” I then say wanting to love, or be loved by a man, is something you take for granted, because that’s hard for Me!
HIV criminalization has become a landmine where walking and talking can blow-up in your face. Dating becomes a question mark about, When, How, and If I tell. Having a full-time job and getting some dick could create jail time and a spot on the 11 o’clock news. Even if you disclose!
A hospital stay for the lucky ones who were not put in the grave by an ass-hole who said “baby a condom takes away from me feeling your juices”. Really! Frankly, I am tired of being the one on the hook for two adults having SEX!!!
Say it with ME people, personal responsibility!!!
Life for me with HIV criminalization is like an aunt who said just keep your legs closed, but her son is trying to open them. Like people who want their cake and eat it too. Like a pastor who has three families in different states, or like number 45.
IT JUST MAKES NO SENSE.
My life with HIV criminalization helps me make better choices, but it can also, in its present condition, turn my life upside down.
Because an ass hole thinks the three letters H.I.V. gives him control over ME!!!
Naimah O’Neal is a social worker living in Ohio and an HIV advocate, speaker, and member of various HIV groups, including two national groups.