BY Benjamin Ryan
December 16 2009 11:00 AM ET
And Baby Makes Three
Matt moved halfway across the country a few years ago in search of love. He’d met a fellow HIVer online and transplanted his life to Orlando, Fla., so he could be with her. There was a problem, though. He wanted kids, and she didn’t. So after four years together, they went their separate ways. But 29-year-old Matt found another seropositive woman, four years his junior, who was as gung ho as he to be a parent. They got married and pregnant lickety-split.
After his son was born in October, Matt, who has an old-fashioned wide-eyed innocence about him -- frequently dropping Norman Rockwell–era phrases like “Oh, boy!” -- describes having an almost religious epiphany. “I had a feeling of elation and joy and worry, and I felt overprotective instantly,” he says. “It’s just like everything about me changed over the course of just a few seconds.”
Matt, who works in a steel center, is intensely guarded about sharing news of his serostatus, including using his full name for this article, and he says he feels the full weight of society’s stigma on his shoulders. He tends to close himself off from people, unwilling to trust them, since a series of scarring experiences in his old hometown after he disclosed that he had the virus.
Creating a family, though, has created a new safe haven for him, he says, and it’s given him a sense of purpose and determination as well. With a child to support, he’s planning on paying off his car loan and improving his credit with the hope of buying a house in a few years.
“It feels like I’ve got something real here, something that I know will always be here for me,” he says about his family. “I do plan to get on meds, specifically for my son. I don’t see any reason why I’m not going to live just as long as anyone.”
Dupree, for one, is living proof of the miracle cycle of life: 26 years with the virus and going strong. “Don’t think that you can’t have a child,’ she says to HIVers who are weighing their options. “Because you can. It’s possible. I’m proof of it. I’ve got three beautiful kids who are healthy and just great. It’s part of being a woman. It can happen.”