Author: Javier Vázquez
Translation: Nati Aldazabal, Stepehen Evans & Javier Mercé Illustration: Daniel Estandía
Music: Rozalén - Comiéndote a besos
Production: Ana Burgos, Iván Zaro y Teresa Navazo
Under Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial - No Derivatives
Credits & Licence
We would like to thank ViiV Healthcare for supporting this book.To María Rozalén, for composing the song ‘comiendote a besos - cover you in kisses’ that speaks about HIV and love, and also for helping us create this book. To my colleagues from Imagina MÁS for encouraging me to follow my dreams.To Daniel Estandía for your wonderful illustrations.To Ana Lambarri, because you are always willing to help.To Rafa, for inspiring such a kind and wonderful character.To Mayte & Vicky for being the first ones to support this book.To Ricardo, for your happyness and kindness, you are my role moodel. And, special thanks to those who believe in love above all.
Cover you in kisses is based on Rozalen’s song ‘Comiéndote a besos’. The song speaks about a girl who falls in love with a HIV+ man. The moment we heard the song, we knew it was going to be a success. It was the first time we heard a song that speaks about love, no matter if the other person is HIV+. It’s a story of humankind, kindness and acceptance.Usually, when people speak about HIV, they speak about the virus, the illness and the stigma. We want to break away from the past. It’s time to start speaking about people and love. We want to show you, not only what people with HIV fears and what their desires and their concerns are, but also how real life should be.The purpose of this book is to open your mind (and heart) to a reality that exists and that it may be closer to you than you think.Before you start reading the book, we would like to ask you a question. Imagine that your Doctor tells you that you are HIV+, would it be easy for you to share it with the people you love?
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Maria used to dream about the same thing since she was little: to become an artist. Actually, no one doubted that one day, not very far away, she would achieve it. Maria always took delight in singing and playing guitar for her beloved ones. Although they had listen to her many times, she always managed to surprise them with new songs. Certainly, she was a very talented girl and that’s why she would never stop writing songs. She found inspiration in the world surrounding her: her granny, her small village near the mountains, films, friends, social injustices, etc. When she focused on any of these aspects her mind began to create
At the age of 24, she moved to Madrid looking for new opportunities to become a renowned artist. It didn’t take her long to find herself a place to start. She soon surrounded herself with people on her wavelength. One day, she met the owner of a small café in the centre of Madrid, who asked her to play there every week. It wasn’t bad but her time was about to come.
Lately, Maria was a bit worried, she didn’t know why but she had lost her spark. She spent hours locked in her room embracing her guitar and with her cat ‘Canela’ on her lap. But she felt as if she had nothing to say.
What Pedro liked the most about spring was that it meant winter was over and he had a long summer ahead. He was from a small town from the south coast of Spain. It had been 3 years since he moved to Madrid to study journalism, but sometimes he imagined himself sitting on the beach and watching the crystal clear water of the sea.
It took him a while to get used to the fast pace of life in the city. He couldn’t understand why people run everywhere even when they were not in a hurry. But time went by and he started enjoying his new life. He met a lot of friends at the University; they went out together, travelled around and watched their favourite bands when they could afford it.
His parents were not very wealthy and they could barely afford his University fees, so he found himself a job at a café in Chueca neighbourhood, the gay area in Madrid. It was hard to come out, he always thought his parents would never accept it, neither would his friends. His sister helped him a lot and he finally found the strength to say it. He was very surprised when his parents did not seem to worry about it.
Since then, Pedro enjoyed his new ‘sexual freedom’, he was very outgoing and cheerful so he had no problems to hook up.
After spending the whole day teaching Spanish as a second language, Juan decided to relax, so he took all the books, put them in his bag and started walking home. The fresh air of May cleared his mind. He started remembering the time when he was an Erasmus student in Berlin. He thought of all the friends he met when he was there, all the parties, the trips they made together and all the good and bad moments. ‘When you live abroad, your friends become your family’ that was what Claire, a French student who Juan fell in love with, used to say.
Till the day he moved to Berlin, Juan had always lived at his parents. It took him a while to get used to Berlin, not because of the language or the German culture, but having to do the housework. He didn’t know how to cook and he survived on pasta for a month. Suddenly, Juan started laughing at something he had just remembered. His first attempt to prepare soup. He poured some water in the pot and put noodles in it. The result, as you can imagine, was ordering food in a restaurant.
Juan was deeply in his thoughts when a girl greeted him. She said she worked for an NGO on a HIV prevention programme. She politely asked him if he had ever got a HIV test. Juan had never thought of that before. He had seen some documentaries on HIV in Africa but he had never thought of it as something that could affect him.
Rafa was a nurse at a Hospital. He had already been working at Emergency services for 4 years and he loved it. It was hard sometimes but it was fulfilling. He loved his workmates, they all worked under pressure but they always did their best and tried to comfort each other. Rafa was currently putting a plaster on an old lady who had broken her arm. The woman was still whining when Rafa finished his work. Suddenly, the old lady gave him a hug and she said thank you. Rafa smiled and felt better about her. He didn’t realise it, but he always treated old women with a lot of respect, somehow they tend to remind him of his granny.
When he finished his shift, Rafa got in his car and turned the radio on. It was playing a song from a singer called Maria, he loved it!. Rafa memorised the song and decided to find out more about the singer when he got home. After spending a long time looking for a parking place, Rafa found a space, which was a bit far from home. Blaming Madrid for being such a crowded city, Rafa got out of his car and headed home. Once at home, he changed his clothes and started preparing dinner. He took his phone and decided to look for more information about that singer. It didn’t take him long to find it. He listened to a few songs and he was surprised to like them all. He found out information about her concerts,
It’s my lucky day! – he said
Maria was playing in Madrid in a couple of weeks.
Pedro hadn’t had much success in love. His longest relationship had barely lasted for 6 months; although, to be honest, he had totally fallen in love. Pedro had met him right after arriving in Madrid. He was very cheerful and made him laugh. That was what Pedro liked the most about him. One day, getting swept up in passion, they decided to get home and entered Pedro’s room. They both took their clothes off quickly and started caressing each other. Pedro couldn’t help it, he wanted to feel him inside him, but he realised he had no condoms. Pedro knew it was not right, but they got carried away by the moment. When they finished, they both fell asleep.
It had been a year since they broke up, but Pedro still thought of him with affection and, sometimes, he wondered what he would be doing in that moment. Suddenly, his mobile phone rang, he could not believe it, it was him! Pedro answered the phone and he knew something was wrong. He seemed worried.
Maybe it’s normal, after so much time not hearing from each other.. Pedro thought.
They agreed on meeting in a couple of hours. Apparently, there was something important he wanted to tell Pedro. Pedro left the University behind and headed to the underground. He got off at the Planetario station and headed towards the park. As usually, it was very quiet. He climbed up the hill, sat on the grass and started staring at the city. He then heard steps behind him. He turned around and saw him. His suspicion was confirmed; something was worrying him. He had been crying and talking nonsense. Pedro grabbed him by the arms and asked kindly what was going on. The news hit Pedro like a hammer. He had been diagnosed with HIV. Instantly, Pedro knew why he had called him, they have had unprotected sex and now he could be HIV+ too.
The girl from the NGO convinced Juan to take the test. Whilst he was in Berlin he had had unprotected sex with some girls. Anyway, they were taking the contraceptive pill, so what should they worry about?
He was a bit worried, but Juan had already made up his mind, he was going to take the test. The girl from the NGO smiled at him and started asking questions that, at first, made him felt a bit uneasy. Juan took a deep breath, he was not used to speaking about sex with strangers, but something about that girl made him relax. There was no judgement in her voice. After a while, the girl told him that the result was positive. Juan felt horrible, the girl was talking but the only thing he could understand was something about going to a health centre in order to repeat the test. Juan, clutching at straws, thought that it was probably an error, that couldn’t be happening to him.
The following day, the girl from the NGO accompanied him to the health centre. He hadn’t slept at all and he was very nervous, so he was very grateful for not being alone. The nurse did the blood test and she told Juan to come back in a weeks time for the results.
- One week! How could he wait for so long! Thought Juan.
The girl from the NGO, suspecting what Juan was thinking about, tried to calm him down. She knew it was a difficult moment so she told him everything was going to be fine. She said there was nothing to worry about, new treatments have come up recently and nowadays people with HIV can have a normal life. She did her best to cheer Juan up, and, at last, he calmed down and hugged her.
At night, Juan was exhausted; he hugged his pillow and fell asleep immediately.
The following week, Juan received the results of the test. Although he had prepared himself , the news hurt a lot. He didn’t feel angry, he was just sad. He needed to talk to someone, but apart from the girl from the NGO he didn’t know to whom. He was afraid of being rejected; what would his friends think of him? And, in that moment, he realised that maybe no girl would ever accept his status. He was tired and he didn’t feet like walking home, so he sat at the bus station and waited.
Pedro always tried to forget the moment he was diagnosed with HIV. The social worker he was with was very kind. He ensured him the test wouldn’t take very long and that it wouldn’t hurt, because it just needed a bit of saliva. Although at the beginning he didn’t feel comfortable speaking about his sexual relationships with a stranger, he ended up chatting a lot with the social worker. From time to time Pedro stared at the HIV test device trying to find out the result.
- what if it is positive? What will I tell my parents?
After 15 minutes, the social worker confirmed the result. Suddenly the room seemed to shrink and it felt as if there was not enough air. He just wanted to escape from there, he wanted to shout very loud and run away. The social worker tried to calm him down, but Pedro did not hear a word.
- that’s it… I’m going to die, thought Pedro.
- I deserve it, No this cannot be true, this device must be wrong.
He blamed himself for letting this happen.
That was long time ago, Pedro participated in HIV support groups and had a check-up every 6 months. He felt stronger now and he has learnt to accept his situation. Nevertheless, he has never fallen in love again. He was scared at the idea of having to tell his situation to someone. How would people accept it?. That’s why he had sporadic affairs that satisfy his desire but did not fulfil him.
Maria, incapable of composing a single verse, wandered around the streets of the Madrilenian neighbourhood of Lavapies. It was her favourite area. She loved being surrounded by such a variety of people. She used to look at someone and she imagined how their life would be: students worrying about their exams, Senegalese women heading towards a women association, old ladies lining at the butchers, hippies gathering in order to start a meditation meeting, etc.
Suddenly, in the crowd, she saw a guy who sat at the bus station. He was staring blankly. Maria sat next to him but he didn’t seem to notice her. She automatically realised that his mind was somewhere else. She looked at him and saw 2 tears dropping from his eyes. Juan had been absorbed for a while and when he came round he saw that it had already got dark. He checked the time; it was 9pm.
- I better hurry up in order to prepare the classes for tomorrow.
He wasn’t sure if he would be able to face it, but he could not quit his job. He looked beside him and he realised he was not alone. Next to him there was a girl who was smiling at him.
- Hi! My name is Maria, and yours? – She said.
It took Juan a while to react but he ended up introducing himself. There was something in her that made him feel better. They spent a while chatting and when they were going to say goodbye,
Maria surprised him singing a song that said: Close the door, I don’t want to be seen. Today, everything from outdoors doesn’t appeal to me.
It was Rafa’s day off and he was wandering around with his friends. They entered a small and cosy coffee shop. When he opened the door, he looked at the waiter who was behind the bar. He was very handsome, but what he liked the most was his smile and his eyes. The waiter got closer to Rafa and asked them what would they like to drink.
Rafa was staring at him while he was serving the drinks. The waiter realised and asked Rafa:
- This is your first time here, isn’t it?
Rafa could only shake his head. The waiter smiled again and introduced himself.
- My name is Pedro, nice to meet you.
Rafa kissed him on his cheeks and he was so nervous that he didn’t know what to say, so he turned back to his friends and joined the conversation. When they left the café, Rafa said goodbye to his friends and started walking around. He was very nervous; the coffee shop had closed a while ago, so Pedro must be about to exit.
Pedro left the café very fast, it was Thursday and the following day he had no classes. He didn’t feel like going out with his friends but he didn’t want to stay home alone either. When he closed the door he saw Rafa standing on the pavement. He was staring at him and he looked nervous. Pedro got closer and greeted him.
The following day, Juan woke up before the alarm rang. He asked himself if it was all a bad dream. He jumped out the bed and took his bag, it was all in there, the results of the test and the paper with Maria’s telephone number. It was weird, he must feel sad but he only could think of her. Her sweet voice had helped him forget about everything and, for the first time in days, Juan smiled. He took the paper and dialled Maria’s number.
Maria was sleeping when her phone rang. The number was unknown, she answered the call and heard his voice, it was Juan, the guy of the haunting gaze.
After a bit of small talk they agreed on having lunch together. What was it in that boy that made her like him so much?
Time went by very slowly for Juan, he constantly looked at his watch. His students, unaware of Juan’s whirlpool of feelings, seemed to not notice anything.
When the classes finally finished, Juan took all his stuff and ran off to meet Maria. When he entered the restaurant he saw her, sitting in a table, he took a deep breath and went after her.
Rafa and Pedro had spent the night making love. Although Pedro always took precautions he felt uneasy from time to time. He knew there were no reasons for it, but he couldn’t help it. He could feel Rafa’s body brushing his skin; his scent fascinated him. He suddenly started to fantasize about the crystal water of the sea nearby his village. But this time Rafa was next to him. He was looking at him and Pedro could see his reflection in his eyes.
- How did you do it? I barely know you and you have broken down the barriers of my heart. Pedro said to himself.
Rafa woke up and it took him a while to realise where he was. He looked at Pedro and smiled at him. They started kissing each other and he noticed that something had changed in Pedro. This situation cheered him up and he let himself go with the flow.
Juan and Maria paid the bill and left the restaurant. It was a sunny afternoon and the breeze blew softly moving the flower laiden branches in the trees. The Retiro Park, situated right in the centre of Madrid was full of people doing sports, tourists enjoying the sunlight and children feeding the ducks with breadcrumbs. The swans, indifferent to everything, swam quietly in the pond. In that very moment, Maria and Juan felt as if time had stopped.
Juan looked at a couple walking hand in hand and he felt sad. He liked Maria but, how could she accept that he was HIV positive? She would probably get scared and he couldn’t blame her for it.
Maria, aware of Juan’s change of mood, stopped in front of him and kissed him on his lips.
- Hey! I didn’t expect you to do that, said Juan smiling.
- I like you Juan, I’d love to hug you and kiss you a million times. But I know that something is worrying you. You are next to me but your mind is far away.
- Maria, there is something… uhmm.. I don’t know if I can tell you.
- I’m sure you’ll feel better if you tell me.
Juan was terrified, his hands were sweating and his heart beat heavily. He heard himself saying:
- I’m HIV positive; I found out it 2 days ago
It took Maria few seconds to answer, but Juan felt as if it was an eternity. Maria’s face showed no sign of what she was thinking about, would she run away? Would she get mad at me? Please say something!
Juan didn’t expect her answer. Far from getting scared, Maria grabbed his hand and told him:
Juan I’m falling in love with you. I want you to wake up next to me, I want to hug you, laugh and cry with you. None of this can be changed because of a virus. When I’m with you I feel good and I’m a better person.
Maria was a bit frustrated. She wanted to make Juan see how wonderful he was. She knew many people wouldn’t like to be with a HIV person, but she didn’t care.
Why are we like that? Why don’t we help people instead of making their lives more miserable? Can a virus change what we are? She asked herself. I have to do something and I know what.
And, suddenly, the inspiration came back to Maria. She was planning a new song, she only had to put it down in words.
Rafa was happy. He had spent a wonderful week with Pedro and the more he knew about him, the more he liked him. They were going to meet that night at the bar where Pedro worked. Maria, the singer Rafa heard on the radio was going to have a concert. Of course, he couldn’t miss it!
It was 10pm and Maria appeared on the stage. She was wearing a beautiful black dress and a red rose attached to her hair. She didn’t seem to o nervous. Juan looked at her with pride, the bar was packed and everybody was smiling. He still remembered the nice song she sang when he met her at the bus stop. It’s been a week, but it felt like a century.
Maria grabbed the microphone and welcomed everybody. Then, she said:
Sometimes, marvellous people cross our paths. I’ve been lucky to meet a person who has touched my soul. Sometimes, certain things happen to us that upset our lives. The person I’ve met is HIV positive. I only want him to know that I don’t care. For me, he is still the sweet guy with the haunting gaze that I met at a bus stop. I want to dedicate this song to you and all those people who are in the same situation. And for the rest of you, if someone ever tells you that they are HIV positive, you don’t have to say anything, just smile and kiss them. This is the name of this song: Cover you in kisses.
When Pedro heard the word HIV, his heart skipped a beat. He left everything he was doing, left the bar and headed towards the area where Maria was about to sing. Rafa saw him entering the room, he seemed hypnotised and he imagined why.
When Maria finished the song, silence descended upon the room. She thought they didn´t like it. The stage light shone directly in her eyes so she couldn’t see anyone’s face. Suddenly, the crowd got up and started clapping their hands.
Pedro was crying, tears fell from his eyes, but he was not sad. He saw Rafa approaching him and tried to dry his tears. Rafa got closer, kissed him and whispered:
- There is no need to hide anything, I love you honey.
When the concert was over and almost everyone had left, Maria got closer to Juan. They didn’t say anything, they just hugged each other and covered themselves in kisses.
It was not after four seconds, that I could find you among the frozen faces. And it seemed an eternity to me just looking at you to see my gaze reflected in your eyes. And now I thank the random reasons why you decided to choose my bench to wait, to find. It was your touch, it was your scent, arousing my hormones what made me close my mind and breath, and control the stimulation. And my only reason was looking for you on the streets in the parks, shops and bars, in smiles and glass beams.
You go for it, you get it, and so this story started to shine. And one day you had the courage to confess that you were so afraid that I knew your truth, but you don't understand...
That it's not your positive sign what turns into trouble a love affair, that it's you who turn me upside down, you who make me love, you, it's you who makes me wanna be a better person. And if I have to shout my feelings out: Let me tell you that I love you with your chances, your shit, with your past and present, with or without illness. Can't you see that I still want to cover you with kisses… Still, can't you see that I want to cover you with kisses...
And my only fear it's just not being able to enjoy your taste enough, it's letting you get away, it's living but not bet on the player with the highest hand. It's your eyes, not your blood, what trails my bed every night and everyday at sunset. And it's your protected sex, not your blood, what goes deep inside the darkest corners of my intimacy, and you still don't understand that it's your laughter, not your blood, what infects with joy the spots and corners of my life. That it's you, and not your blood, who fill my days with happiness.
That it's not your positive sign what turns into trouble a love affair, that it's you who turn me upside down, you who make me love, you,, it's you who make me wanna be a better person. And if I have to shout my feelings out: Let me tell you that I love you with your chances, your shit, with your past and present, with or without illness. Can't you see that I still want to cover you in kisses… Still can't you see that I want to cover you in kisses...
HIV & Diagnosis
HIV & Love
VIH y Reproducción
HIV & TreatmentAn HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus
HIV & DiagnosisMany times, people with HIV face the diagnosis alone for fear of discrimmination.
HIV & Life Expectancy
HIV & Life ExpectancyLife expectancy for HIV-positive people on successful treatment equals to those who don’t have HIV.
HIV & LoveHIV-positive people’s greatest fear is to be rejected by their partners, family and friends.
HIV & ReproductionThanks to current HIV treatments, it’s possible to conceive naturally, without passing on the virus to the baby or your partner.
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HIV & Treatment
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