Thank you for sharing with me your news, even though of course the moment does not seem great. I am moved and honored that you trusted me enough to tell me you were just diagnosed HIV positive. And while I’m sure it seems the sand has been pulled out from beneath your feet like a rush of tidewater leaving the beach, and that everything has changed, in reality, at least between you and me, nothing has. Don’t panic: as the sea rushes out, you can lean on me until you are strong enough to steady yourself, to get your bearings back. You will. That, I know. You are still my friend. Don’t think you are thought of less, or differently.
Across the miles, I can offer you only that. While I’ve known many with HIV/AIDS, I cannot begin to understand what it is like to hear that news myself. So I cannot pretend I know what it feels like to be in your shoes at this moment.
This is a new chapter, certainly. You might feel like you’re in uncharted territory, without a map. But you’re not. People have come this way before. Many have cleared a path so your journey is easier, or at least with fewer thorns and shadows.
To offer you strength, I turned to exactly those people: those I know who have a much better idea of what you are going through. Each I asked was eager to help, to offer support, to lend wisdom, extend a hand. You may seem alone, but you have entered into a strong and powerful network, full of information and sympathy and remarkable energy. In this network, vibrant, informed, productive, and extremely compassionate men. Their response to me, on your behalf, proved just how much so.
What did they all want you to know, never meeting or knowing you?