World AIDS Day: Activist Maria Davis Reveals How AIDS Virus Has Affected Her Love Life
Back in 1995, South Bronx-born music promoter Maria Davis was on top of the world — young, beautiful, happy, and getting her first real taste of success. Her weekly “MAD Wednesdays” hip-hop showcase was a hot industry event, and as its host she even scored a guest spot on Jay-Z’s debut album “Reasonable Doubt.”
But then came the letter that sent her entire world crashing down. When she was forced to take a blood test for a life insurance policy, Davis learned she was HIV positive, and had contracted the virus from her fiance. Three years later, she was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS.
That was 14 years ago. Today, despite the odds, Davis is not only alive and well but also on a mission: She is a Making AIDS History Ambassador, and together with the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), she’s spent the last 18 years of her life fighting to stay alive and to help spread awareness within her community and raise money to support research for a cure.
We know all about her public battles, but when ESSENCE.com sat down with Davis we asked her how living with AIDS has affected her private life. She opened up about her desire to find a soul mate and the hurdles the disease has created along her path to true love.
ESSENCE: Have you dated a lot since your diagnosis? What’s dating been like for you?
DAVIS: It’s been very fearful. But I love love. Tyler Perry is a big inspiration. I’m always watching his movies and the relationship dynamics that he puts in them. They’re all about a woman being hurt and finding love, and I’m crying and thinking to myself, Man, I want to be in love too. I’m not having a relationship with anybody unless I know their status. You can be re-infected. Another part of it is the person I’m sleeping with could have a different strain of the virus than I do. So whereas your strain is manageable, you could get another strain and it could take you out of here. The only way you can know for sure is to go and get tested together. That’s for anyone, in any kind of relationship. Whether you’re jumping the broom, just dating, whatever – before you sleep with someone, you should know him or her in and out. You have husbands and wives who have given each other HIV.
ESSENCE: Is making your status known right away most important to you when you’re dating someone new?
DAVIS: Absolutely! I’m a spokesperson. The only way you really don’t know I have HIV is if you haven’t read or seen anything about me. But I make it clear that I am living with AIDS. Actually, when I’m in a relationship, I’m more afraid of an individual than they are of me, trust me. They know what I have coming into the relationship, but I don’t know what they have. Are you telling the truth? Are you being honest? Are you telling me one thing, but it could be another thing? If so, then my life is in jeopardy all over again.
ESSENCE: Do you feel it’s been harder to find love because of your diagnosis or your fears?
DAVIS: Let’s be for real: It’s because of my diagnosis. I’ve had guys tell me I’m fine, or they try to talk to me. Then when I tell them that I’m living with AIDS they kind of back off. I do have one friend I’ve been in and out of a relationship with. But his head isn’t ready yet.
You can read the rest of Maria Davis’ interview over on ESSENCE.com, including advice she has for younger women who are dealing with HIV or AIDS and yearn to have a successful relationship. This is yet another important facet of dealing with this terrible disease that often gets overlooked. It is great to see Maria Davis opening up even more about how it has affected her personal life.