My Journey of Resilience: Living with HIV and Overcoming Trauma, Victor Velázquez, 50+ Scholar

My Journey of Resilience: Living with HIV and Overcoming Trauma, Victor Velázquez, 50+ Scholar

Victor Velazquez's profile image

Living with HIV for 30 years has been a journey of self-discovery and resilience. When I first received my diagnosis in 1994, I thought it was a death sentence. But here I am, still alive and healthy, which feels like a miracle. My diagnosis was a turning point in my life. It forced me to confront my mortality and the harsh realities of my past.

I had to face the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the substance use that followed. But it also sparked a journey of self-healing and inner growth. Coming to terms with my mortality has been a crucial part of my healing process. I’ve had to confront that my time on this earth is limited, and that’s a scary thought. But it’s also motivated me to make the most of my time, pursue my passions, and build meaningful relationships.

Healing from my childhood trauma has been a central part of my journey of accepting the reality of living with HIV. I’ve had to confront the negative feelings and beliefs created by the sexual abuse episodes. I’ve had to learn to love and accept myself, flaws and all. As difficult as it was at the time, I had to learn how to let go and forgive the person who committed that terrible crime. Through therapy, I learned to look into the mirror. To look into my eyes of my reflection and talk to that little hurt boy … and say to him: “Papito, nene, it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Though tears welled in my eyes during that heartfelt connection, there was also a sense of freedom. Through that cathartic conversation, I ultimately learned how to forgive myself.

So yes, today, I feel like my life is in balance. I have come to terms with the fact that HIV will forever reside within my body. I now understand that I have HIV … not that I am HIV, as I have heard so many people describe themselves. I refuse to be defined by my condition. I’ve found purpose and meaning in my advocacy work and relationships. I’ve learned to prioritize my physical and emotional health and seek help when needed. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty and wonder of life, even when confronted by challenges that often make me want to pull the covers over my head and back from the world.

Living with HIV is not just about managing a disease; it’s about living a life that’s full and meaningful. It’s about finding purpose and passion and pursuing your dreams. It’s about building solid relationships and connections with others. That is why I appreciate my connection to the 50+ family.

 If you’re living with HIV, know that you’re not alone. Know that there’s hope and healing available. And know that you have the power to create a life that’s full and meaningful despite your diagnosis. Don’t give up, don’t lose hope. Keep pushing forward and know that a better tomorrow is possible.