I met Mirvan through fellow twitter contacts – I like to refer to them affectionately as: all my rockin’ tweeps! Mirvan’s photo even conveniently matches The STD Project’s theme and branding design – how’s that for well-matched?!?!
So, it made sense to ask him to share his story with our readers when he said he’d like to do whatever he could to help.
He is an inspiration to so many – those who are HIV positive, who have a different STD, or who are challenged by unrelated mental or physical illnesses – and his positivity (pun intended) is infectious (pun also intended)!!!
Thank you, Mirvan, for being a positively infectious inspiration to all of us! 😉
1. How old are you?
I am 21 years old.
2. What do you do for a living?
Right now, I work at home. I am a freelancer. I do a lot of stuff to gain some income, mostly related to writing.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
I am HIV positive.
But I think I have experienced some other forms of STDs when I was younger such as fungal infections or even yeast infections. But aside from that, I am negative for other STDs like syphilis and hepatitis.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
I just learned about my status last February 2012. But to be honest, that is when I got my confirmatory test.
For years, I have always had this nagging feeling that there is something seriously wrong with my body, but I chose to ignore it out of fear and ignorance.
I only learned the truth when I started getting really sick.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
I was having sex quite a lot. I was promiscuous. I have had multiple sexual partners and numerous casual sex experiences since I was sixteen.
To be honest, I do not care anymore where and from whom I got HIV. There is no one to blame but myself. I was the one who was irresponsible and unsafe. I brought this on myself, so to speak.
So instead of wallowing in regret and putting the blame on other people, I just accepted my situation and forgave myself so that I can start healing myself and be a better person.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
It became so much better! I can even say that being HIV positive is the best thing that has happened to me.
Not that I am saying that having HIV will make you a better person; so, it’s okay to have it. What I am saying is that HIV made me see the world in a more positive perspective.
Being HIV positive has also opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I have met a lot of wonderful people worldwide.
In summary, I feel that I am more fulfilled and happy than ever before. I really believe it when I say that HIV is a blessing in disguise for me. Instead of letting this virus bring me down, I am using the virus to make myself better.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
In a way, yes. The people who know about my status seem to be closer to me now. They seem to love me more.
All I can feel from my friends, my acquaintances and other people is love and care and also respect.
Being brave enough to disclose my status to those people, even to strangers, empowers me.
I feel good about myself, because, through disclosure, I can say that I am proud of who I am. HIV is just a part of me. I am still a human being like other people.
The support and love that other people, even random strangers online, make me feel about what I am doing with my life now is worth it. I feel so inspired to achieve my dreams and to do good because I want to show everyone that HIV will not hinder you in being the best that you can be.
This virus is just a disease of the body. We should never let it also be the disease of our souls.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
Yes I am. I am currently taking antiretrovirals – Efavirenz, Tenofovir and Lamivudine – they are given to me by my treatment hub. Aside from that, I also take multivitamins, barley capsules and virgin coconut oil. When I was sick before, my only treatment for my infections were herbal medicine.
I was diagnosed very late.
To be honest, the greatest treatment for me really is positive thinking. When I learned about my condition, I told myself that I will survive this, that I will live a long life. I will never let this virus make my life hell. I always make sure that I am happy every day and that I am always filled with optimism for the future.
When I accepted my condition, the healing started. And I can proudly say that I am now almost fully healed. No one will suspect that I am sick, even though my first and most recent count showed that my CD4 is only 2. I can say that I even look better and feel healthier – more now than ever.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
To be honest, it’s really complicated to answer this question. I am not entirely committed to one person.
After my diagnosis, I have been, in a way, polyamorous. I have intimate relationships with several men in various degrees simultaneously. Each one of them knows about my status and all of them accept me as I am. Some of them are HIV negative and some are HIV positive.
All these relationships are based on mutual respect and love.
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
I do not intend to have sex with someone unless I tell them my status.
I want my partners to accept me for who I am. I do not want to hide my status just for the sake of getting laid.
Since I learned about my HIV status, I am more focused on creating solid relationships with people. The first thing that they have to know is my status. I always tell them on the first conversation we have so that they will have a choice if they want to pursue something intimate with me. To be honest, I always get good responses. I never get rejected. Maybe being honest is really an advantage. People will respect you more and be more interested in you if you are always genuine.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
After I learned about my diagnosis, I felt that I must change for the better. I told myself that life is too short. I can die anytime if a great infection strikes me.
So, instead of being miserable, I went ahead and started achieving my dreams. I have always wanted to be a writer but, I never found the time. Now that I work at home and with no real job, I am writing a lot after my diagnosis. And, I mean a lot. I make a tremendous amount of poetry, short stories, essays, book reviews, etcetera.
I told myself that I cannot die without being a well-known writer. I also started promoting my artworks. I have been an artist for a few years already. I am inspired to become someone great.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with The STD Project?
I want to participate because I want others to be inspired.
I want to show everyone that HIV did not deter me from achieving my full potential. I want other people, especially PLHIVs to see this virus as a second chance in life. This is not a curse or punishment. It’s up to you how you will interpret why you got HIV.
For me, I took this virus as a message of hope and self-empowerment.
I want people, positive or negative, to follow their dreams. Life is really too short for regrets. Instead of dwelling on our mistakes, we should make sure that every day is an opportunity to learn and to be better.
Mirvan Ereon is a writer, an artist and a professional book reviewer among many other things. He is active on Twitter as @posithivecutie. He maintains two blogs on living a positive life with HIV: http://posithive-cutie.tumblr.
Edit from The STD Project: Mirvan succumbed to HIV/AIDS on August 15th, 2012. The STD Project deeply mourns the loss of a friend and reflects on his life’s work in this post.
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Did this story touch you? Are you inspired by his perspective or have you felt the same way? Do you feel differently about your STD? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!