Shobha Shukla - CNS
If HIV positive people take ART therapy and viral load is undetectable, they live normal lives of love, hope and peace
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I met the two of them at the Clinica Condesa Iztapalapa, in Mexico City, where I had gone to attend the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019). Was it a mere coincidence that they had many things in common - they share the same surname; they speak fluent English; they neither drink nor smoke nor are on drugs; they eat well; they are fitness freaks and lead a healthy life. And they both are HIV-positive and live life positively. Even though it was love at first sight for them, it was not a case of opposites attracting each other.
Roberto Rodriguez is a professional dancer and an actor. He comes from Sinaloa, a state located in north west Mexico, but has been living in Mexico City for the last 17 years. He has a beautiful family comprising "my mother, 3 brothers and 3 sisters who live in Sinaloa. We love each other a lot and have a great relationship within."
He was diagnosed with HIV 15 years ago. But it was only 4 years ago that he started on antiretroviral treatment (ART) and that too on his insistence. His doctor said that as he was healthy and physically fit and his CD4 cell count was 700, there was no need for him to go on ART. But Roberto decided to start medication.
Rolle Rodriguez is from Argentina. He is an industrial designer by profession. He came to Mexico City one year ago where he was offered a job. The company for which he works knows about his positive status and is okay with it. Being HIV-positive, he was worried that, being an Argentinian, he might not get proper medical attention in Mexico. But then he came to know about this clinic, which provided him with solutions to all his problems. He was diagnosed with HIV 12 years ago and started on ART. He says he was fortunate enough that his doctor detected the virus early on.
Relationships are built on honesty
When I asked Roberto how and when his friendship with Rolle begin, he said emphatically: "It is not just a friendship, it is a relationship."
They met in a gym about a year ago, soon after Rolle had arrived in Mexico City and was struggling to find his feet. "Meeting Rolle was the best thing that has happened to me," said Roberto. "I have had many relationships with guys in the past whom I had met through the internet or in clubs. But the moment I met Rolle in the gym, I just felt that he was different from the rest and was the one I was waiting for. Obviously at that moment we did not know about the HIV-positive condition of each other. After a couple of days he got to know everything about me because I wanted to start my relationship with honesty. And then he told me that he too was HIV-positive. I said wow, then we have more things in common to share!"