My name is Nestor Rogel. I am 27-year-old heterosexual cis gender man who was born HIV positive. I have been advocating for people living with HIV for many years. Throughout my life, I have often shifted on the idea of having a child. On one hand, I want a child who I can teach everything I have learned. I like to joke and say I want an “organic hard drive” to back up all my important information. I have even toyed with the idea of what their names would be. On the other hand, a child is a lifetime commitment. One I am not yet ready to make. I have much to learn and much to do before I can begin that plan. However, it took many lessons in life and advances in medicine to come to this conclusion.

Growing up positive in a socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhood, my knowledge of HIV and the medications I took were outdated. I had a skewed view of life. Having been born positive, I had a negative idea of parents and parenting. Bitterly, I often asked, “what kind of parents would allow their child to go through this?” I did not want a child because I worried that they may suffer stigmas as I have. The medications at the time were not meant for youth or adolescents. One of the side effects included a severe sense of vertigo where I would have to lay on the ground to try to level myself. I could not imagine bringing a someone into that kind of life. In addition, I did not think I would be alive long enough for my child. This feeling was later reinforced with the passing of my own mother to AIDS-related Pneumonia. Losing my mother reinforced the fear of what my child may feel when It is my time.  It was something I thought would not be in my future. I, like an Aesop fable, was bitter to the idea of children.

Then the truth set me free. Learning about Undetectable equals Un-transmittable ( U=U ), and PrEP  gave me a new light in life. I set out to make sure I achieved and maintained undetectable levels to prevent the spread of HIV and inform my partners about PrEP. I have come to understand that my future child will not face the same stigma and side effects in their life. This hope has inspired me to think about what family I want to have.

At my age, when people are settling down and starting their families, there are times I envy my friends and family who have children, especially my positive friends. I see how my nephew idolizes my brother and how my friend’s new daughter gets excited when she even thinks he is near. It is a feeling of love that I think some people living with HIV do not think they will ever have. But as humans we all love and want to be loved, and there is nothing purer than the love of your child.

 

Nestor Rogel is 27 and lives in South Central Los Angeles.

 

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Information and Resources from HIVE

As Treatment as Prevention (TasP) and PrEP become more well-known across the U.S., HIVE is wondering how men who have sex with women are finding out about the possibilities for safer conception, what they think about it, and what barriers remain.

We love sharing stories about men living with HIV who are having, have had, or want to have children. We also love sharing stories about dating and disclosure. Applause for clinics who are routinely offering PrEP to women, and clinics who are telling people living with HIV that TasP works.

We are on a journey, learning and growing together. Looking for a platform for your voice? Interested in helping others by sharing your story? We can work with you if you prefer to be anonymous. No professional writing skills necessary. Contact caroline@HIVEonline.org

Check out the links below for resources around TasP, disclosure, and family building.

Prevention Access Campaign

Having a Healthy Sex Life and a Healthy Family

Disclosure: PRO Men

Adherence: PRO Men