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 Tuesday 02 December 2008
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COLOMBIA: Edinson Aranguren: "My family were more worried about my soul than my ass"

Photo: Kristy Siegfried/IRIN
Edinson Aranguren: "I think I was lucky because some of my friends have died"
BOGOTA, 26 November 2008 (PlusNews) - Edinson Aranguren is a gay AIDS activist who works for the Colombian League for the Fight Against AIDS (Liga Colombiana de Lucha Contra el SIDA) in Bogota, Colombia's capital. He talked to IRIN/PlusNews about how HIV/AIDS has affected his life.

"I'm the son of a Baptist pastor so I grew up in a Christian environment. All my teen years I thought I was possessed by the devil. My family found out I was gay when I was 17 and they discovered a letter from a boyfriend under my mattress.

"They were more worried about my soul than my ass. They sent me to a Christian psychiatrist and he tried to change me, but at some point I decided I wasn't interested. When I started college I decided to forget my teen years and my religion.

"When I was in college, someone I was dating invited me to visit his friend who was sick. He was living in a very poor place, in a shack, and he was dying from AIDS. His mother gave us coffee and little plate of rice and I was unable to eat it. I thought it was dangerous.

"The first time I tested [for HIV] I was working for a bank and they tested me without my knowledge. One day my boss came and said in front of everybody, 'You're okay, you don't have AIDS'.

"Working for the League was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it helped me understand not only my own life, but gave me an opportunity to really help others.

"Before I started working for the League, I wasn't using condoms. I think I was lucky because some of my friends have died and my current boyfriend is living with HIV, and my last boyfriend was also positive.

"I didn't choose them for that reason; they found out their status when we were already together. I think it was good for them because I was there, knowing the facts. It's kind of hard for me sometimes, but I can't tell people that it's enough to use condoms and lubricant if I don't do that in my life."


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


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This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.