My HIV Diary: Inspired, Week 21
Ryan Dixon (a.k.a former porn star Kameron Scott) has started taking HIV medication. He’s keeping a diary of his experience.
Being in my mid-20’s isn’t easy, add HIV on top of that and we have one hell of a complicated life. I’m making the best out of the hand life has dealt me and the decisions I’ve made along the way. Writing helps free my mind. Hopefully these words will help you understand the plight of others like myself, and inspire you to live each and every day in the moment.
Week 21 (Jan. 19 – Jan. 24)
I’m coming up on day 150 of being on my medication. This week I wrote in SFGN about my experiences at Pridelines Youth Services’ CampOUT. The program is a three day camp out at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While I already touched on my inspirational revelations while surrounded by some of the most remarkable young people I have ever met, I wanted to share the talks during and after camp that I had with some of the youth about my HIV status.
The first night at camp, I was asked by one of the counselors to test out a game she wanted to play the next day called “7 Deadly Sins”. She actually walked into the cabin asking if anyone wanted to and my cabin volunteered me saying I was the most athletic. I wouldn’t argue with that. It’s because of me the counselors won the tug of war (which I never got a thank you for – just saying). After a hard fought battle at nearly midnight I won the game to no one’s surprise (yes I’m bragging). It was extremely hot and when I took off my shirt a camper who was playing asked me about the memorial tattoo I have on my left shoulder.
I explained that I had the artists make the red ribbon imperfect because HIV isn’t a pretty disease. The first date under the ribbon is the date I was diagnosed with HIV and the second date is when my friend Josh died of AIDS. He is still the only friend I’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. It caught that 19-year-old off guard as well as everyone who was in ear shot. He said he was sorry for asking. I guess he never expected me to tell him an intimate detail about myself so candidly and bluntly. I made sure he knew that it was okay for him to ask me anything and there was no need to be sorry.
The next day during the safer sex talk, I noticed one thing that I think needs to be addressed. The sex therapist went through the normal dialog about wearing a condom to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STD/STIs. I wish, especially with the amount of young gay men that were there, there was a larger discussion on HIV. Something like that hardly, if ever, happens when a person holds a safer sex talk. I feel that if young people had a better understanding of how the virus is transmitted and how it works, safer sex measures might resonate with them better. I spent a good amount of each day answering questions ranging from how many pills I take, to if I was scared of dying, to how I have sex. Their voices were often sheepish when asking, keeping their it low and their eyes shifted away from me.
One night I was with another 19-year-old guy that tried to be sympathetic to me while telling my story, apologizing when I told him my father’s last words to me. He didn’t understand how I couldn’t be mad. I told him that anger has no place in anyone’s life, for any reason. If I was mad at my father or the person that infected me, I’d never be able to try to reach people like I hope I’m doing.
My goal is to create a place where people aren’t afraid to ask questions about their health. Those questions don’t always have to be asked to a medical care provider or professional. I welcome any question that relates to my HIV or my life in general. The more you know, the better.