Growing up in the age of AIDS many young people grew up to fear HIV, which did not properly prepare them in the event that they one day may be living with the virus. In the essays linked to below, young gay men share and explore what it means to be young, gay and living with HIV.

Tyler Curry is a Dallas based writer. One December 1st The Advocate published an op-ed by him in which he disclosed his positive status. Days later The Advocate published Curry’s follow up and a response from his sister was also published. In his follow up piece Curry explains why he shared his story:

I found resolve in my decision to tell my story. I understand what I am facing, and I believe it will only bring light to my life, and maybe even a little to others. I am tired of all of the fire and brimstone being touted from a generation disconnected from mine. I have my fair share of shortcomings, but I considered myself a pretty tough cookie to crack—and I had crumbled. It is time to start baking with a new recipe.

Inspired by the work of the late William Brandon Lacy Campos, social justice leader Hussain Turk wrote an opinion piece for POZ magazine for World AIDS Day this year in which he too discussed his experience living with HIV. In his piece he writes:

Those of us who live in and beyond the beautifully queer, feminine, and brown margins of a straight, white, masculinist (and might I add astoundingly dull and vapid) society are taught at an early age to hate ourselves and strive for unattainable and unsustainable “str8 acting” social norms. We laser away our flaws, bleach our skin, straighten our hair, exorcize our lisps, shave our bodies, and lynch our inner queens….I recently discovered a new mantra—I am loved, and I am loving.

There is much to discuss in both stories. Hussian and Tyler are resilient, interesting and interested men who are invested in making the world a better place.

What makes them different from each other is also worth considering. How does race, class, and politics play into their lived realities?

With both of their stories it is important to consider how mainstream, out of date ways of relating to HIV have impacted them. How different would their lives with HIV be if people didn’t assume it was no longer an issue? How would their experiences be better if people didn’t hold assumptions about who does and does not have HIV?

Their articulate and heartfelt expressions are yet another reminder that AIDS is not over.

Click on the underlined text above to read the stories in full.