From Pain to Empowerment: Healing after Sexual Assault and an HIV Diagnosis

The years since Guy Anthony’s HIV diagnosis are filled with advocacy, empowerment, resilience, and book writing

“I knew that I wanted to live, I just didn’t know how to live.”

At age 19, Guy Anthony was sexually assaulted and contracted HIV. In the years since, he has been determined to share his story hoping his truth would inspire others around the world.

Take Control HIV sat down with Guy learning about his struggles, the misconceptions he’s fact-checking, and how he is writing his own script.
How HIV transformed Guy Anthony’s life
Guy Anthony says HIV saved his life.
“I was going down a really dark path,” he remembers. “I honestly would not have been here had I not contracted HIV.”
Guy was 19 years old when he was raped. He says many believe individuals get HIV because they are “promiscuous”, so he shares his story to address that misconception.
“I got HIV through none of my own doings. I was sexually assaulted; I was given this disease.”

When Guy was diagnosed, he knew he desperately needed care to survive. With no insurance and no knowledge of HIV, he started looking for support. He found the Evolution Project, an organization in Atlanta dedicated to helping people of color who are living with HIV. (The project has since closed operations.)

“I told the executive director that I didn’t have insurance, but I could volunteer and maybe if I volunteer, you can connect me to reputable resources. That’s exactly what happened.”
Within months, Guy says he was in a much better place, “I knew I wanted to live, I just didn’t know how to live,” he says. “Finding a community that could help me and assist me with my disease and connect me to care. Within six months I was well on my way.”
Building a network
As he volunteered and participated in focus groups, Guy realized that being so open and honest about his positive status, others would feel comfortable sharing their positive status with him – and only him.
“We do not have to be shameful of this disease. I started to gather people that I knew that were living with HIV.”

This was the inspiration for his book Pos(+)itively Beautiful. Guy wanted to connect with his community and let others know it is okay to be open about your status. Because by talking about your status, we can reduce stigma and correct misinformation.

Challenging HIV stigma
We asked Guy what he thought the biggest misunderstanding was about a positive status and he responded, “HIV is not a death sentence. We are thriving and living full lives.”

With treatments and care, people are living healthy lives. And staying consistent on treatments can make you undetectable and untransmittable (U=U).

“This was not the case for people living with HIV in the early 90s. It was a death sentence. So, for my mother’s generation – she’s a Boomer – to her it is still a death sentence. She witnessed her friends and people around her that were queer, dying of HIV daily or monthly,” says Guy. “I’m showing her through my works and through my life, I am able to live and I’m thriving.”
Advocating for better healthcare access in towns big and small
While there is improved access today, Guy expressed finding resources can be limited by where you live. He moved from Atlanta because of this.
“It was a three year wait for ADAP, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, where underinsured or people living with HIV with no insurance get their medication,” says Guy. “I left because I wanted to live, and I wanted to get healthcare, comprehensive healthcare.”
Guy says access is a challenge in towns both large and small but in rural communities, he believes the biggest barrier to healthcare is the way people think about HIV.
“In DC, everybody talks about HIV. We talk about PrEP. We talk about PEP. In Detroit, where I grew up, you rarely leave the community in which you grew up in, right. So, when I talk to them about HIV, I have to teach them about it,” he says. “Even in 2024, there’s a stark difference in comparison about how we talk about HIV in small towns and big towns.”

This is why Take Control HIV is committed to improving access to resources so everyone in Pennsylvania can connect to care.

The journey to empower others
Through his volunteerism and finding community, Guy says his life changed.
“I found that once you find your community, doors open for you. Literally and physically,” he says. “Once I found the Evolution Project, I was connected to AIDS Atlanta, they connected me to politicians, HIV researchers and there was a wealth of opportunity for me.”

This led to Guy starting the Black, Gifted & Whole Foundation, an organization providing scholarships to Black queer men attending college. His organization has raised over $100,000 for 23 Black queer students attending HBCUs to stay in school. He was also named a GLAAD changemaker during the pandemic and has many goals for the future.

“I always told myself that if I was ever in a position to give back, that’s what I was going to do.”
An author, activist, advocate, community leader and more – we want to thank Guy for sitting down with us and sharing his story.
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If you are inspired and want to share your story, connect with us on social media. Take Control HIV is focused on building our community and is on a mission to ensure all people have access to HIV testing, care, and treatment.
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