November #41 : One for the Books

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Table of Contents

Organizing Inside

Concealed Weapon

Long Day's Journey

Lethal Lottery

Natural Bootleg


One for the Books

Flying Ace

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Hatch a Plan

Signs of Life

The Trouble With Norvir

Engine No. 48,000


To the Editor

None the Wiser

Tomato, Tomahto

Enter at Your Own Risk

Say What

Swim Lessons

Stigma Enigma

Daddy’s Helper

Nushawn on the Block

Privacy Parsed

Equal Protection for All

“Just Say No” to Welfare

Ms. Thurman Goes to Washington

POZ Picks

Show and Tell

The Eye in the Storm

Get Our Phil

POZarazzi: AIDS! The Musical

Verse: Amirah


One for the Books

Flying Ace

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Hatch a Plan

Poetic License

Poetic License

The Vision Thing

Stop the World, I want to Get Off

Surviving Behind the Walls

Prick and Tell

The Bitter End

Draining the Reservoirs

Testosterone Beats Fatigue

Carnitine Boosts CD4s

Multivitamins for Moms

Bleach Works

HIV Med Line

Weight List

Do the Hustle

A Mantra a Day

Attack of the Monster Combo

Helper Cells

He Still Is What He Is

Dark Secrets

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

email print

November 1998

One for the Books

Tommy and Valerie Reeder's romance is better than fiction

Tommy Reeder rem

Tommy and Valerie Reeder's romance is better than fiction

Tommy Reeder remembers being ashamed of his feet. "When I went into detox in 1995," Reeder says, "they made us take off our clothes. My feet were so funky. I was ashamed that I had let myself fall down that far." But after three decades on heroin, seven years on the street and eleven months with an HIV diagnosis, taking off his shoes was just Reeder's first step. "I decided I was not going to die," he says. "That's why I got off drugs. I knew I didn't have to live that way. I had to give myself a chance." Now, at 43, Reeder often finds himself right back in some of the very same prisons where he was once incarcerated, but this time as an HIV educator.

"Once, before I got clean, I was on a prison bus with my hands and feet in shackles," he recalls soberly. "I looked out at the apartment buildings going by and thought, 'That's where I want to be.'" And with Reeder's change of world, he made it through -- "from abandoned houses with no electricity and rain leaking onto my head to a luxury apartment with central heat and air." Reeder bows his head. "For this," he says. "I give all praise to God."

Especially for his new wife, Valerie. The inseparable pair met -- where else? -- at an AIDS service organization in Washington, DC.

Valerie Reeder, who also has HIV, is the founder of Heaven in View Inc., a nonprofit providing education and outreach to local people of color. With few funds but a whole lot of faith, the couple have kept the aptly named organization afloat. "Heaven in View is there to show people who just tested positive that they're not in it alone," Tommy says. "When I get letters from kids in juvenile detention centers after a talk, I thank God that He had more plans for me than to let me die."

The pair's determination is also bearing fruit in the form of the granddaughter they're raising, Annisha, age 7. "We tell her we'll be around when she has grandkids," Tommy says, laughing. "We've got a pair of rocking chairs -- we plan to be using them a long time from now."

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