A Day in the Life of a Post-’90s Generation Male Homosexual with AIDS/HIV
In 1998 January, the World Health Organization made every December 1st World AIDS Day, to draw the world’s attention to AIDS. Research has shown that 7% of male university students have acknowledged having homosexual male experiences, with this proportion increasing the risk of university students becoming infected with HIV. Cases of university students with AIDS are increasing every year. AIDS is gradually eroding university campuses that were once seen as pure. Recently, this website’s reporter interviewed Zhao Li (pseudonym), a student at a university in Qingdao infected with AIDS/HIV [note: AIDS is often used interchangeably with HIV in Chinese]. He hopes his story can be a warning for others, so that more university students can avoid contracting HIV. Source: qingdaonews.com. Text/Sun Lulu. Photos: Zhang Liwei.
Zhao Li is a fourth year student at a university in Qingdao. He was born in 1992 and will graduate soon. He is a “model student” in the eyes of teachers and parents, a good example touted by parents. “From the moment I saw two lines on the testing strip, my life was over. All my plans and dreams could never be realized,” Zhao Li said forcing a smile. HIV, the moment it enters the body, it will quickly replicate, and what more, will be lifelong contagious, ultimately causing the human body’s immune system to thoroughly collapse, until death.
The Zhao Li in front of this reporter is shy and well-mannered. Upon meeting this reporter, he immediately extended his hand in greeting. Even though he still has half a year before graduating, he has already been recruited and signed an employment agreement. “What I fear most now is the health exam,” said Zhao Li, because the agreement has a provision that if he doesn’t pass the health exam, the employer has the right to terminate the contract.
Zhao Li is a male homosexual, and this [contracting HIV] isn’t unexpected. Homosexual sexual activity and especially those of “male homosexuals” are heavily represented among those with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, with the demographic of men who have sex with other men also being important in the prevention against the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Zhao Li says he became aware of his sexual orientation in middle school. In his 20-some years, he has never liked a girl. After entering university when he had more access to outside information, he was even more certain that he was a homosexual, and even met his first boyfriend. Zhao Li has a cautious personality, so when he had sexual relations with other men, he always insisted on using condoms, just in case. Even so, he still contracted HIV. “I don’t understand, why it happened to me?” Zhao Li said.
Because he was a volunteer for the Qingdao homosexual community, Zhao Li found himself alone in the community office on March 15th. This is a place where people in their community often congregate in their spare time. At this time, he should’ve still been back in his hometown spending his winter vacation, but because of certain things that happened at home, he had returned to Qingdao early. Alone and bored in the office, he used a ready-made [HIV] detector, and pricked his fingertip, to test the blood for HIV, only for the results to very quickly be displayed: two lines. He was immediately dumbfounded.
Prior to that winter vacation, Zhao Li had taken the test once, and he was HIV negative. He thought hard trying to remember his sexual partners during this time, what they had done together, but could not be sure just who infected him with [HIV].
During this time, Zhao Li had gone through twists and turns in his relationships. After breaking up with his ex-boyfriend, he met a new boyfriend. So upon recalling, he had had sexual relations with four homosexuals during that time, one being his ex-boyfriend, one being his new boyfriend, and two one night stands he found through dating [hookup] apps. “We had all taken safety precautions, but…” After this happened [testing positive for HIV], Zhao Li still refused to accept the truth.
The majority of those who have [HIV] find themselves unable to accept that they are HIV positive. Zhao Li was the same. What repeated in his mind was: “It’s over, it’s over, it’s over…” On the first night after Zhao Li had confirmed that he was infected with HIV, he chose to slit his wrist to commit suicide. “I just wanted everything to end. If I’m dead, then all the guilt, self-blame, suffering, as we ll as my responsibility would all disappear,” Zhao Li said.
But after watching the blood on his wrist flow for half an hour, he suddenly came to his senses, picked up the phone to call his friend, went to the hospital for emergency care, and saved his life. Zhao Li says in that half hour, all the rights and wrongs he had experienced in his 20-some years of life flashed before his eyes, like in the movies. “I ultimately couldn’t let go of my mother, couldn’t let go of my sister, because without me, they wouldn’t be able to go on either.”
Zhao Li grew up in an unhappy family. His father was a parasite [a burden who does not contribute], sometimes beating Zhao Li’s mother after coming home from drinking. Zhao Li’s sister is older than him by two years. She attended university in Beijing and remained there after graduation, with the family’s entire financial burden borne by her. “No matter what, I still have to hurry and make money to support my family. I can’t die yet,” Zhao Li says. As for his identity as a homosexual and condition as having HIV, he has never mentioned it to his family, as he has always been his family’s pride. “I don’t want to hurt them [his mother and sister].”
Most people in the initial stage of testing positive for HIV do not immediately take medication. They must regularly measure the CD4 cell count and viral load in their bodies, so doctors can consider both the test results and the patient’s health condition before choosing the optimal treatment method. Zhao Li’s CD4 cell count is over 600, and according to international standards, he’s not at the stage where he needs to take medication, but to lower the probability of infecting others, he choose to begin taking medication.
The moment one begins taking this medication, they must take it for the rest of their lives, and what more, they must take the drugs according to a very strict schedule. If they miss a time, then it will fail, and if they stop taking the medication, the consequences will be even worse. While taking the medication, the HIV virus is controlled by the drugs, and will be hidden in certain organs. If the drug’s effect stop, then the HIV virus will quickly bounce back. While taking the medication, due to every person’s body being different, the drugs will have certain negative side effects. Zhao Li has exercised regularly for year and his physical condition has always been quite good, so he says the side effects haven’t been obvious for him since starting the medication.
At present, the method of treatment most often chosen by HIV sufferers is the “cocktail therapy”. Treatment/regimens are divided into first line and second line. Every regimen requires the simultaneous use of three types of drugs, and based on each person’s body and their negative side effects to the drugs, patients can choose different drugs and regimens. This kind of treatment is primarily intended to lower the rates of AIDS onset and death, but are unable to completely eradicate the virus from the patient’s body. With current advancements in medicine, curing AIDS/HIV is still a difficult problem [remains elusive], but the life of the patient can be extended to a certain degree.
Comments from NetEase:
Before winter vacation, he tested negative, but when he tested before winter vacation was even over, he was positive… and yet he isn’t certain just who it was that infected him… just how messed up [wanton, reckless] is this circle of people? And homosexuals still have the gall to demand others respect them? A bunch of people with AIDS/HIV!
Just stick to non-sexual activity.
Now that your sword has poison [are infected], who will still play [have sex] with you?
You people just please stick to harming each other in your own circles. Don’t change your sexual orientation anymore only to come out and screw over others.
This guy, with him changing boyfriends so easily, it’d be strange if he didn’t get infected.
Every time I see news about homosexuals, it’s like looking at a pile of shit.
China must quickly implement euthanasia, and impose relief on these people.
Why is it easy for gays to contract HIV? If you don’t sleep around, how would you get infected?
I support male homosexuals [gays], oppose female homosexuals [lesbians]. If there are lesbians, please invite me to join…
Asshole destroyed, butt injured, your feminine cannot be cut off…
[Note: The original Chinese is a parody of a lyric from a Jay Chou song. This is the rough meaning.]