May 2, 2011
Welcoming shoulder and master of social work at Culturally Compassionate
Counseling, positive for 16 years.
June 5, 2011, marks 30 years since the first published accounts of what
became known as AIDS. For this anniversary, we asked 31 long-term
survivors who’ve appeared in POZ what
moves and sustains them and whether they think they’ll live to see a
cure. Why 31? One for each year, and one more for good luck.
What’s the most helpful thing anyone has said to you over your years living with HIV?
I think the most helpful thing came out of my own mouth: “I got HIV being a human being doing human things.” This took away the notion that I did something wrong when I got infected with HIV.
What change or development in your treatment for HIV has most affected your life—for better or worse?
When I was diagnosed in 1995, combination therapy was becoming the standard treatment. That changed HIV treatment, and it is probably why I’m still healthy and alive today.
What one thing has most aided your survival, and how difficult is it to overcome stigma?
Knowledge has really helped my survival. Having great friends has helped me emotionally.
Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime—and if so, will you benefit from it?
Technically, the cure has already happened in my lifetime—I’m referring to the stem-cell transplant patient who was cured—but I’m not sure that I will benefit from it. I’m not concerned about whether or not I will benefit from it, because I believe that I’ll live a normal life with the treatments that are already available.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
As with any chronic illness, give yourself time to get used to the diagnosis. That means having good social support and a knowledgeable HIV doctor.
to read this article as it
appeared in the June 2011 issue.
read more of our "30 Years of AIDS" coverage.
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