Role Model Stories

My name is Chris. I’m 48, was born and raised in Philadelphia, and now live in St. Petersburg, FL. I began going out at age 16, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and was always aware of safe sex practices, but didn’t always protect myself even into early adulthood. In my younger days in Philly, my friends and I would go out on the town and have a lot of fun, and a LOT of sex! Hell, we even used to have contests to see how many guys we could sleep with in one night—I wasn’t usuallythe winner of this contest! We weren’t particularly afraid of getting sick ourselves because, at that time, it seemed that only the older guys from the 70’s party scene were getting sick, so I continued to go out and have my fun as I became a young adult and moved to Tampa. One day, my roommate got me involved with Tampa AIDS connection, and I saw up close what HIV could really do to people. It made me realize that this illness is not a joke and that I could very well become a statistic. My roommate reaching out and my exposure to what HIV was doing to my community made me shape up and start telling guys, “You’re not f***ing me without a condom!” I experienced some good-natured chiding about it from my close friends—in fact, whenever I would turn down a guy because he didn’t want to be safe, my friends would always say, “But he’s HOT,” and I’d reply, “Yeah, he is…but he’s not!” Reminding myself of the terminally ill people I met—what they went through, and how they became my friends—helped to keep me focused on the risk to myself and the fact that condomless sex just isn’t worth it. Over 20 years later, I’m still here, still kicking, still HIV negative, still consistently using condoms, and happy to share my story.

Chris' Role Model Story

Ça va! I’m Dreaux, originally from Louisiana and in love with St. Pete. Since moving here two years ago, I’ve had some awesome things happen to me. I was really excited about all the new opportunities I had, including meeting new guys. Fun times for a 26 year old! So I met a guy that I clicked physically with (a lot), who is HIV positive and undetectable. By this point I had already done my research and understood that it’s virtually impossible to transmit the virus when someone is “undetectable”. I had also done extensive research on PrEP and the effectiveness of it when you take it daily like they tell you to. Before I met this guy I didn’t feel like I really needed PrEP, but when I thought about the basically zero chance of HIV transmission between PrEP and undetectable, it was a no brainer. I had never been on daily meds before so remembering to take it every day was hard and I missed doses like once or twice a week. It took me a good two months before I got into the groove of things, but I knew that the only way I would get the most protection was to take it every day. I finally figured out that if I put the pill bottle next to the moisturizer I use daily that it would be in my face, so to speak. I’ve been on PrEP for about a year and now I rarely miss a dose. Ok so maybe I might miss like once a month, but since I’ve been on it I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to maintain a healthy sex relationship with the guy because of the confidence I have in PrEP, and I’ve never felt better about my sexual wellness and security. I really recommend you try it.

Dreaux's Role Model Story

Hola, mi nombre es Johnny; Soy un varón Latino de 23 años. Vivo en Tampa, FL, y estoy saliendo con un hombre que es VIH positivo, pero indetectable. Muchos me dicen que estoy loco, pero en el momento en que lo vi, supe que él era el único para mi.  A el que yo me entregaría completamente; en todos los aspectos, ya sea emocional, mental o físicamente. Cuando se trataba del sexo sabía de la posibilidad de contraer el VIH, así que necesitaba asegurarme que yo estaría bien. Quería seguir siendo negativo, so la primera solución que me vino a la mente fueron los condones. Esto es un dolor de cabeza para mí porque amo la sensación del sexo sin condón. El sexo con condón simplemente no es lo mismo. Una noche mi novio y yo estábamos viendo la tele y salió un comercial que promovía el nuevo condón de HEX. Me encantaba cómo se veia el condón; era fuerte y me permitia sentir todas las sensaciones. Decidimos darle una oportunidad y fue increíble, incluso me olvidé que el tenia puesto un condón. Ahora que sé que existen muchas variedades de condones, amo tener sexo con protección. La mejor parte es que puedo mantener  una relación saludable con mi enamorado  y mantener mi estatus negativo. Si nosotros pudimos hacerlo usted también lo puede hacer.

Johnny's Role Model Story

I am Beau Blair, a 25 year old black guy new to the Tampa area. I have always been the type of person to believe in goals, both in my personal and professional life. Dating new guys, I wanted to make a goal of asking about my partner’s status. Being HIV negative, open dialogue about status has always been high on my list of priorities. The more I began to date, the harder the conversations about status became. Most guys focused on the act of jumping into sex right away. Personally, I only used condoms when a guy shared that he could be high-risk or I had an uneasy feeling. Protecting myself by using condoms 100% of the time then became my personal goal. But, with my partners, one mention of status or our last testing dates and all communication came to a halt instantly. To me, knowing goal behavior can shape your future. I began to focus on the places I would frequent and people I was dating and hooking up with. Once I stepped outside the box and started going to new places, I meet this great guy. This time, rather than focus on sex, he was interested in more dialogue. We both have previously been in long term relationships and found it extremely comfortable to communicate with each other. The focus on upfront communication came from his adherence to PrEP medication. When the time came for us to talk about our status, it was so easy. We both shared that we were negative, and through open conversation, we both have agreed to set personal goals. My partner’s goal is to remain steadfast with PrEP. Now, we have been in a relationship for over a year and our sex life couldn’t be more safe and sexy. 

Heeeyyy! I’m Jackson, I use he/him pronouns, I’m twenty-eight, and I’m all about positive energy, hair and makeup! Tampa is where you can find me if you need a stylist. A little more about me… I started taking PrEP about a year ago. But to be honest, I didn’t quite see the full benefit of it to me when I started so I wasn’t taking the pill every day like I knew I was supposed to. You see, I was in a relationship at the time and even though we occasionally slept with other guys, we both routinely tested for HIV every 3 months and knowing my man’s status, I felt like my risk was slim to none. You know, so moving forward in life things happen and we ended up parting ways. As fate would have it, in walks my Mr. Right about six months ago. I’ve always been open about getting tested and knowing my status, so it was easy to get to know each other and for him to disclose he is HIV positive. Meeting this guy and the physical attraction that we have, I knew right away that I would definitely need to step up adherence to my PrEP medication.  I knew it was going to be hard remembering to take my PrEP with my rotating schedule of salon and makeup clients, so I created a location reminder on my phone that tells me to take my pill every day when I get to my shop. As of today, I’m totally rocking it out. The automatic reminder was the best tool I could’ve implemented, and I’ve only missed maybe two doses in the last six months. Being on PrEP and taking it every day makes me feel so confident in the protection I have, and it’s been so good for my sex life! 

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