POZ Exclusives : Your Letters to Regan

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April 11, 2006

Your Letters to Regan

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BRAVO, BRAVO...
Regan Hofmann, your story couldn't have come at a better time. I was diagnosed August 31, 2005. One of the first things I was recommended was to tell nobody but my family. ("WHAT?” I thought.) I've been fighting a battle in a town that is smack in the middle of the bible belt. The headquarters for the Church of God is here. The schools that allow public speaking disagree on "condom" topics (education/distribution).

The battle for me, mainly, is trying to get others around me (some who are positive and others who are well educated specialists) to realize that I'm not doing the wrong thing by being unafraid of my status. I admit, it is probably the cause of my ongoing debt, the reason why I still can't find a job and why I'm about to lose my car and may be forced to live in a shelter. You know what? I can walk, and I'm not afraid or ashamed to live in a shelter. But I still fight because I REFUSE to give in.

Ma'am, I am so happy to see you on the cover of the newest issue of POZ w/your story. You have just strengthened the strategy this country needs to fight this battle. I want you to know that there are so many others like you. We are in colossal numbers. Some of us feel like we have been put into a noose but haven't been raised to be silenced because we can kick like hell!!!

BRAVO AGAIN, REGAN HOFMANN!
James Ozmun
Cleveland, Tennessee



Hello Regan,
I am a president of an ASO here in Florida. I soon will be moving to California. I am a big time activist as well. I am glad to see that other strong women like myself are out there. I just wanted to say congrats, and I bet you wish you had done this sooner. I know I sure felt a great sense of release when I did so.
 
Thank you
Dyane Haddock



How do I begin? I read a lil bit about your "coming out," as it were. After 19 years of being HIV+ I’m still an anonymous member of the HIV World. The reason is because I’m also a pre-op transsexual. I just got turned down for a job because I am transgendered, a position I know damn well I am more than qualified to do.

I’m sure you’re aware of the movie "Transamerica"? What a joke that was, again another stereotypically homely white TS, while TG's of color have no faces except on porn sites and mug shots at the local county jail. For sure not in HIV+ America.
 
Jazmine B.



Ms. Hofmann: I applaud your courageous decision. I went public with my diagnosis almost 16 years ago. Once in a while I wish I had kept it a secret, but unfortunately I got very ill when I sero-converted, and so it was kind of hard to hide... But by and large I feel it was the right decision to disclose and for the most part, I haven't had to use valuable energy trying to fool anyone. I wish you well, and continued success with the great work that you do as POZ editor-in-chief.
 
Sincerely,
Patrick Hamilton
Mission, B.C., Canada



I perfectly understand the sentiment.... Having been positive for two years now, I understand the feelings you went through.  Yet you still seem to be a bright, vibrant, beautiful woman who has taken control of her life. All I can say is, YOU GO, Girl!!!  
 
Sincerely, a POZ.com fan forever,
Norman Ravellette
Longview, Texas



I just read the interview with the new editor of POZ magazine and both the old and the new editor made me want to THROW UP!

REGAN: Yes, but I was grateful to be shown other ways of looking at the world. I’ve been resensitized by HIV. In that regard, it was a great addition and change in my life.

SEAN: Talking about their diagnosis, people say things like, “Oh, it was the greatest gift I ever received. It did wonderful things and changed my life.”? On the one hand, I want to react kinda like, "gag." I mean, you just got a horrible disease you’re going to deal with for the rest of your life. But on the other hand, having HIV does give you awareness and a sensitivity that beforehand you didn’t have. It added a dimension to my life that has made me a better person.

They sound almost freakin' GRATEFUL to have HIV! I'm so very happy to hear they are now more sensitive human beings! Big WOOP!

Having a positive mental attitude is one thing but I think ANY KIND of "sensitivity training" is a helluva lot better than living with HIV or AIDS. 

And my experience working with people living with AIDS is that it does NOT increase their sensitivity to others - for many it becomes "ME, ME, ME, it's all about ME."

Charles Housman



Good people of POZ…

I am coming up on my one year mark. I have only told six people aside from my partner. I was sitting last week in my doctor’s office and there is this magazine with this woman staring up at me.

It says on the cover, “I am no longer afraid to say I have HIV.” There’s a picture of a striking blonde in a green get-up looking up at me over the words. I feel a twinge of jealousy for two reasons: one, I don’t look good in green, and two, I want to say that.

I am waiting for my doctor; I pick it up and start to read it. My doctor comes in. Lets me know I can have it. I carry it out of the office. I make a conscious effort to roll it up. Like it’s a dirty magazine.

The magazine makes it way around my house. It’s in my home office. I logged on to do some work and there is Regan again. Finally I look at the magazine and smile knowingly.

I will be that free someday. Right now, I am happy and freaked out and angry…and really really sad sometimes. But overall, I’m good.

I wanted to thank you Regan, and POZ for this story, which above all relates this human aspect of the disease. This story and your interview made me realize that I don’tt have to do all of this now.

I have time. Lots of time. And I will when I’m ready.

So, two things in closing.
Thing one- Let me know If you need a writer for a new “Anonymous”? column.
Thing two- Regan looks great in green, but I am going to wear Blue if I am ever to grace the cover of POZ. Green makes me look freakishly elfin like, jealous...jealous...jealous.

Keep up the good work.

Brandon



My heart goes out to you. It is truly a wonderful thing to see someone step up and take a stand in the struggle we all face in regard to this disease. I myself have suffered more than my fair share of the social and economic stigma that accompanies HIV/AIDS...and would have been totally lost if not for the blessing I found through Ryan White and Visiting Nurses Association... Now with my numbers climbing and my health regaining some semblance of normalcy, I plan also to give back to the very care network that opened my eyes, and it is through positive mentors like you, your writings/stories, that I find the strength to do so...
  
In Kind Regard,
Gary Johnson



Dear Ms. Hofmann,
   
The cover of this month's POZ looks awesome. You’re beautiful. Thank you for your articles and your strength. I tested positive in January of last year. I feel two-faced and secretive looking at people, wishing I could trust them with my status. I struggle because I want people to know, but at the same time I don't. A friend of mine is a well respected activist from the beginning of the pandemic. She wants to get out there again (educating) and I want to jump in with her. Her hang-up is her family (her kids) and mine is my career (nursing/administration).

I guess I am looking for inspiration, advice or a shove in the right direction. How do I help young professional women like myself who are stuck in a box and are trying to live in two worlds? How do I (hopefully) inspire those at risk to get tested and stay educated? Whatever happened to safer sex? Abstinence isn't the only way.

Name Withheld



I admire your courage. I talk openly about my status but I am selective when it comes to certain environments. I realize we will only get the recognition we deserve when we can put a real face on HIV. Still this condition is associated with gay men booted up on crank hanging out in bath houses. When I think of who AIDS affects, I think of women like myself, college graduates, mothers of small children, Fortune 500 employees, gorgeous, all ages, all races, many with jail/drug histories. Many are victims of poor relationship choices.  No woman is immune to this disease. Many of the women profess to having been monogamous in long-term relationships only to find out their partners had a dual identity. 

At times I feel it's my duty to be accounted for as one living with HIV.  I don't let others refer to me as sick or dying because I've seen sick or dying people with this affliction and I am neither. I've been positive since July 1994 and I've attended the funerals of those that cried hardest and longest about my impending death. 

Life is a temporary assignment. Just like I found myself in a position that enabled me to contract the virus, it could have been anyone. Having unprotected sex with anyone is tantamount to sleeping with a loaded gun. It's a matter of time when each of you assumes the other put the safety on.

Peace.
Girl Next Door +



Hello,

I am writing to say thanks for the inspirational article you wrote on finally coming out. I to am positive and I must say I am quite new, only being told in August of 05. Until reading your article I had major anxiety about how can you disclose such a thing, but you changed that. So far I have learned to live a much better and healthier life style but having to hide it left something in me blank. I know you are a busy person and this email may be taking away precious time from you, just keep up the good work and together we who choose to come forward and educate others can make some difference, no matter how small it may seem.

Thank you
Terry



Hi,

I am an HIV+ gay male living in Los Angeles, the city of non-disclosure, it seems. Everyone here is so ashamed of their status, and that irks me. I recently read that you decided to come out of your anonymous shell... GOOD FOR YOU.

I wish you the best, and congratulate you on your ability to accept the undeniable part of yourself that we have in common. The living thing that lives within us must be loved just as every other part of ourselves must be loved in order for us to maintain a full-scale operation of health.

Thanks for your time,
psw


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