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Saturday 24 February 2007
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My name is Hayden and I am HIV-positive, though I've been told that I don't look like someone who may eventually die of an AIDS-related illness. I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of that.

Unlike many of the "accidental victims" of this disease, I can't blame anyone for my infection because, while I did not know it at the time, I chose the path that I am currently on.

I grew up in a dysfunctional home with an absent father and an alcoholic mother.

Over a number of years I was sexually abused by drunken men who spent weekends entertaining my mother and her sister. It began when I was six years old, and the shame of it prevented me from telling anyone. I could only hope that a neighbour, or one of my older sisters, would pick up on it. This caused me a great deal of pain and grief. I felt alone and filthy.

I never did well at school, and decided long ago that I would amount to nothing in the end. Just like many of the people in the community where I was born and raised and defiled.

Alcohol and marijuana numbed my senses during my early teens, as I hopped from one sexual encounter to the next with the hope of finding something meaningful - not like the encounters with the drunken paedophiles.

The booze and weed was mild, compared with the other drugs being used around me, but was sufficient to fuel my drive for self-destruction. That never happened, though. I was too drunk and drugged up to ever carry out a successful suicide.

I left home at the age of 19, and turned my back on my mother who was fermented in booze and on her own downward spiral.

With very little information about HIV and AIDS I arrived in Johannesburg hoping to at least find some work and start a new life. Here I learnt that there was no such thing as a free meal.

What I got in return for the security of a job, a warm bed and a plate of food was an abusive relationship of four years with someone much older than me. At least the sex was safe.

Strange how prostitution was not an option. Not that it hadn't crossed my mind. So many young men who had escaped a life similar, if not worse than mine, had gone that way.

Healthy, and with the right group of people to offer support, I made the break from my relationship of convenience.

I eventually found what I was looking for all those years ago, and went into it with my eyes shut. It was warm, loving, secure and a huge leap of trust after so many violations.

But all good things come to an end. We move on with our extra baggage and try to iron out the creases as we go. For some its the scars of an abusive relationship, for others its regret of the time wasted. For me, it was HIV.

Thankfully any liaisons that followed were with the added information that condoms prevented HIV infection.

In the meantime the virus grew, but not as fast as it could have had I exposed myself to re-infection through unprotected sex.

The eventual diagnosis only helped to encourage me to go on searching for what I was needing to heal. While my search was still for love and happiness, the source would be somewhere else. From within.

It took a lot of searching, but I think I am finally at peace with my situation.

I am now 30 years old and still single, but I have a fulfilling career, a roof over my head, good friends and a sober mother who has become a pillar of strength for me. So everything turned out okay in the end.

I've heard that life is a journey, and I plan on enjoying what's left of the ride.

Forever Positive
Hayden Horner

Diary Entries
HIV/AIDS Ownership: Erasing the sins of the father
Celebrity and HIV/AIDS: Limelight versus Social Responsibility
HIV/AIDS Coping Mechanisms: "What would a mayfly do?"
Beyond the Borders of HIV/AIDS Treatment Strategies
HIV/AIDS Feminisation: A new wine in an old bottle
Antiretrovirals - The Wind Beneath My Wings
The Mis-education of HIV/AIDS Clinicians
HIV Prevention 101: Ignoring the Church's views on condoms
Stigma and HIV/AIDS: lethal bedfellows
In remembrance of our women and children
Maids, madams and the "terrible thing"
Internet love and inter-related HIV-prejudice
Previously eyes-wide-shut on HIV and religion
Love, lies and disclosure
Black pot and blacker kettle
Things better left unsaid on the bus
Food for thought while waiting to die
Test results not all good

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