Hi my name is Andrew Pulsipher. I am HIV+ and have been since birth.
Here are the facts about me:
1. I am married to an amazing woman and we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this October.
2. I have 3 beautiful children. They are ages 5, 3, and 1 year old.
3. I have been HIV positive for almost 34 years. I can’t say with complete confidence that I am the oldest person living with the disease, but I am pretty sure I am at least one of the oldest living people prenatally infected or born with HIV.
4. Kids who are born with HIV and not treated usually die around age 3 -7. I started taking medication when I was eight.
5. I am currently “undetectable”. No it doesn’t mean I am a ninja. This phrase relates to the amount of virus detectable in my blood, although it still can be hidden in other parts of my body. It also means that the medicine I take every day is working!!!
6. Both of my parents died from AIDS. My dad died when I was 4, my mom when I was 8.
7. None of my brothers and sisters are HIV positive, just my parents and I. The virus will end with me.
8. I grew up with my aunt, uncle and their four children, my “cousins.” I call them my mom, dad, brothers, and sisters because that’s what they are to me.
9. I grew up very rarely telling people I was HIV positive. Only few family members outside of our immediate family and a couple close friends knew. This was to allow as normal of a childhood as possible for me.
10. I am sharing this with you because for the first time I can be completely honest with myself and others. This has taken me a very long time to be comfortable with (almost 34 years!). I know HIV has a negative stigma, but that it doesn’t have to and I want to help change that. It is a treatable disease and you can live a normal life with it. I am proof of that. I want to educate people so that we can get past the “HOW you got the disease” to “HOW you are living your life with it”? There are many miracles in the world and I believe my life is one of them. I am not the only one and we all have stories to tell. If you feel drawn to share my story, please do. I would love to be part of the change in how we talk about HIV.
Thanks to STM