Huffpost Gay Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Nathan Manske Headshot

24-Year-Old AIDS/LifeCycle Rider Remembers the Night He Found Out He Was HIV-Positive and the Hateful Words That Followed (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:

The I'm From Driftwood crew is in California for the 11th annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles raising money for HIV/AIDS. IFD founder Nathan Manske and guest videographer and editor Matthew Ladensack will be sharing daily video stories from some of the 2,700 participants who are embarking on the seven-day, 545-mile trek. You can follow IFD's daily adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

Many people wonder exactly what it's like when someone finds out he or she is HIV-positive. Chris Richey, the 24-year-old founder of The Stigma Project, shares his personal experience:

I had never done a mobile testing unit in my life before. ... So I went in, and the girl sat me down. She took blood first. I had to wait 20 minutes, and she came back, and she said it was reactive. I think I went through shock first, because I had been tested a million times before and nothing had ever come back that way, and I was just assuming that it would come back negative, like it always had. And it didn't.

Through The Stigma Project, Chris wants "to create an HIV-neutral world, free of judgement and fear." After hearing just one experience he had with an acquaintance who was hanging out at his home, it's easy to understand Chris' motivation:

This guy says something about someone I play dodgeball with in West Hollywood. ... He says, "You know, this guy right here has AIDS. That's so disgusting." And he just goes on this tangent, not realizing that I'm HIV-positive. ... I went over, and I was like, "You know what? I'm going to take my HIV meds and go to bed." ... I pulled out my medicine, and I took my pills in front of him, and I was like, "You know what? I have to do this every day." And I was like, "And so does he. And you know what? Just because you were dancing with him does not mean you're going to get HIV."

WATCH:

Submit your own story at ImFromDriftwood.com.