“Being gay and being a person of color is like living in a world without family you have to deal with racism and then when you turn to your own people they also hate you because of who you love” – Keith Mims
Keith is an artist and a musician that keeps a smile on his face and a song in his heart.
He is a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, a Sigma, a Sinfonian, college educated, and he is HIV positive.
What made you go get tested in the first place?
“I just felt off, like something wasn’t right. I had a cold I could not shake and a good friend of mine kept telling me I should go to the doctor and that I should get tested. So eventually I did.”
“What was your first reaction when you found out? Describe how the next 24 hours went for you after hearing you were infected with HIV.”
“Initially, I took a rapid test so I got my results back in 30 minutes and was told I was positive. They then had to draw blood and send it out to confirm that I was in fact, infected with HIV. The next 24 hours were real rough. I cried a little, I couldn’t eat, I was numb, blank, trying to figure stuff out. I was calm after the second results because I had time to self-reflect about my actions and what led up to this. After the second positive I just picked up the pieces as I went.”
Do you know who you contracted HIV from?
“Yes- or at least a good idea of who. After I found out I was HIV positive I gave all of my previous partners information to the doctor and let him contact them. I didn’t feel the need to confront him or anything like that because I recognized my responsibility in the situation.”
How was disclosing to family and friends?
“I had just moved to another state so my family more than anything just wanted me to know they loved and supported me. I also got the same feedback from my close friends. Nothing but love and support.”
Keith and his family pictured
How are you treated by others identifying as a black, LGBT, HIV-positive male in America?
“I really only have issues with people who don’t know me. They have those negative preconceived notations but that typically goes away after they get to know me. I did have some issues with some of the older members in my fraternity home chapter. And some backlash from others who were worried about our image. Some of them aren’t that accepting of my lifestyle but there are also just as many brothers who love and accept me the way I am. My sorority sisters have also always had my back. It means a lot to me to have people stick by and stick up for me. I would say one of the biggest challenges I face is dealing with other males hypermasculinity.”
Keith and some of his fraternity brothers.
How is your love life? Is it hard finding love being HIV positive?
“My status has not been a hindrance on my love life. I actually just got out of a relationship. When I’m dating I would typically not disclose my status until they got to know me. It’s important for them to know me and not just my status. If I’m engaging in a “hook up” I disclose right then and there. I met someone who was nervous about it one time simply because they needed to educate themselves on the matter but most people are fine with it. They tell me thank you for letting me know and we keep it pushing.”
Ive heard stories about people who actually want to be infected by HIV have you ever ran into those types? If you did would you infect someone with HIV if they wanted to be infected for whatever reason?
“I personally have not, but a friend of mine was approached in that manner before. I would never purposely infect someone.”
Whats treatment like for you?
“I only have to take 1 pill a day. I have to make a real effort not to miss any doses. Missing it a few times won’t make me immune to the treatment or anything but it is recommended to not miss any doses”.
What was the inspiration behind going public with your status?
“I found out I was positive with HIV September 19th, 2012 and it took me about two years to get comfortable with myself and what that meant. I came out about my status back in 2014 and it started from a photoshoot I did. I came out because I wanted to help other people just like me. I am very passionate about educating youth, the LGBT community, and college students about HIV and HIV prevention. I just want to stop people from making the same mistakes.”
Does your status affect how you live daily and your thoughts of the future?
“Definitely. I’m usually a positive upbeat person but sometimes I have a gloomy feeling because it feels almost as if a clock is hanging over my head. But it has helped me to make some very positive changes in my life. I eat better (or as healthy as I can afford), I work out, overall I take much better care of myself and my health.”
Anything else you’d like for people to know?
To heterosexual men: Its okay to befriend someone that identifies as LGBT and that DOES NOT make you gay or on the low. Stop letting society keep you in a box.
Get to know someone before you judge them.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Educate yourself on HIV
PREP therapy does not excuse unprotected sex
and use love, always use love”.
For more information on Keith and his journey with HIV or to check out his music connect with him on:
For more information on HIV and HIV prevention check out: https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/
- Do you know your status?
- Would you date someone who was HIV positive?
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