There are approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and nobody understands its impact on one’s life more than business owner, author, and HIV activist, B Styliz Ortiz. The 24-year-old Brooklyn native expressed his passion to speak out about HIV and its stigma BEcause he too is HIV positive.“I actually found out that I was HIV positive in November 2010 and that’s when my life truly changed,” Ortiz shared in a BE exclusive interview.
Ortiz BEgan living a promiscuous lifestyle at the age of 16 after his mother lost her battle with cancer. He was dating a lot of people, mostly older men and when he was 18, he dated a partner who joined his risky lifestyle,doing a variety of drugs and engaging openly in sexual acts.“He was positive a year prior to us dating and after a year of us dating,” Ortiz said. “We lived a promiscuous lifestyle.”
Ortiz and his partner eventually went their separate ways, a year after his own father had committed suicide and after his brother passed away in 2010, he found out that he had also contracted the virus.“I felt discouraged, I was angry with myself, I was just so confused. I needed answers,” Ortiz said.Those answers BEgan to come to him after he started to compile journals and worked his way toward BEcoming a published author. His book entitled “The Pretty Boy with the House in Virginia” was a way for him to express himself through his ordeal.
His book discloses all of the truth and awareness of the risk that those who live a promiscuous lifestyle put themselves in everyday. Using his own life experiences through his campaign “What Does HIV Look Like, Ortiz is in hopes that he will continue to open the eyes of people who may be going down the same path he did.Although his efforts have BEen a success, sparking inspiration in others to share their stories, he never thought that it would have gone this far.“I didn’t think it would have been so positive. I would have never thought I would have gotten so many responses from the community. Not only the LGBT community but the black community in general.”On top of his book, Ortiz will also BEgin filming an informative HIV prevention and awareness talk show, “It’s Faceless.”“It’s going to BE very blunt, very raw, and it’s just going to give you the uncut version of what everyone else is scared to talk about,” Ortiz said.
Having gathered much more information about the effects of HIV and living life in general, Ortiz has some sound advice for his younger self and the youth today.“Strap up, stupid!” Ortiz exclaimed. “I would tell myself that protecting yourself and loving yourself is more important than anything else.”
You can follow B Styliz Ortiz on Instagram @therealbstyliz and on Twitter @bstylizortiz. His paperback book which will be re-released through a new publishing company, Born Hustlers Publishing in May 2014 is also available for $16.99 on his official website www.bstylizortiz.com or it can be purchased on iTunes or for the Kindle.
Interview TranscriBEd and Written by Tiffany Roper