Brandon Bright works at MPACT- DFW in Fort Worth, Texas, an organization that educates and offers services around HIV and sexual health for men of color in the community. Brandon was diagnosed with HIV in 2009 and he has used his experience to help connect others to services that can help demystify issues around HIV and provide resources that can lead to a long and healthy life.
“Every day in some shape, form or fashion, I’m reminded of where I don’t want to be and where I came from. I think that’s what gives me strength to keep going and going and that keeps me clean.”
“Well, I am an open book myself so I give a little bit of me in hopes that they give a little bit of them in return. I think it’s just a gift itself that I am a pretty transparent person. And so in return people are more than likely to open up and be truthful and honest with me.
I knew I had done some stuff, okay? And so I knew that there was a strong possibility. I can be honest and say I didn’t know what I didn’t know and it’s a possibility some of my reckless behavior could have contributed to me contracting. I moved to Houston, Texas, in 2007, got introduced to drugs and with that comes sex and then just not thinking clearly. I didn’t know the statistics. I didn’t know numbers. And so now realizing the 50 percent chance with the things that I was doing, you know, it was only a matter of time.
I wasn’t experiencing anything but I knew – I had a friend who was getting very sick and he never quite told me that, you know, it was HIV or anything like that – he never really quite told me but I saw him getting sick. He was in and out of the hospital and then he had that conversation with me – he was honest with me and I was honest with him, like you know, ‘I feel like I need to go. I need to go.’ And we went.
I went with him to the clinic. He was upstairs getting his treatment, I went downstairs and got my test and that’s how I found out. I remember going to the clinic and I did the mouth swab thing and the guy was like, ‘Well, what do you think you are?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I see I’m positive.’ You know, he was like, ‘Do you need any help? I mean how do you feel?’ I said, ‘I feel fine.’
After that it took me a whole year to actually go get into care. So I knew I was positive but I didn’t go right to the doctor and get on treatment. Because once you find that you’re positive it’s a life changing experience. So now you have to take a medication every day – and after I got on the medication and got everything taken care of and got myself connected to services that’s when I told my mom and my sister and they were, you know, very open about it.
My mother was a little bit more open about it than I thought she would be because it would get to the point where she would say, ‘Hey, taste this,’ and I would be like, ‘Well, let me get another spoon.’ She’d say, ‘Boy, I know I can’t get it because I did my research,’ and that made me feel more at ease that she took the time to educate herself because I personally kind of felt like, ‘Okay, people are thinking that I’m gross now,’ and that’s not how they received it because they love me.
Brandon Bright Short Audio:
Brandon Bright Long Audio: