Chris Whitney tells his friend Erin Kuka about being diagnosed HIV positive early on in the AIDS crisis.
Chris Whitney (CW): The first person I told was the person I was dating at the time and that was pretty much the last conversation I had with him. You know, the fear just took over. That kind of made me really weary about opening up to people. So, I decided to do some traveling and I met a Frenchman who would become my partner for the next ten years. And I was freaked out about telling him, and I was like, well, I have to tell you something, I, you know, I’m HIV positive. And his response was, ”Yeah, and so?” And I thought okay, he didn’t understand that.
Erin Kuka (EK): Language barrier.
CW: Right, you don’t understand what I mean. And he said, ”Yeah, no I understand. And so am I. And so what?” And I was so blown away by that response. I was so used to always being the person who was positive meeting somebody who was negative. It didn’t occur to me that I would meet someone who was also positive.
EK: And you were able to remain healthy, while he started to succumb to the disease.
CW: Yeah. In my time in Paris is when the antiviral drugs first started to come out. So he was put on them right away and unfortunately I think in his case it was too little, too late.
CW: And in my case, it was just in the nick of time. I’ve lived with this for so long. It’s hard not to ask the question: well, why me? Why have I survived? You know, why did those treatments work for me and not for him?
CW: You know, I have this memory of looking out our bedroom window. It was a night with a lunar eclipse. And we looked out and watched the lunar eclipse together. And I remember thinking that it was the last one he would see, and we would see together. And I remember, I don’t know what I said, something stupid, and made him laugh.
CW: And I just loved, loved, loved hearing him laugh.