January/February #141 : Pass the Mike - by Ionel Belfiore

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Growing Pains

A Stirling Example

You’ve Come a Long Way, Babies

My Generation

Can We Talk

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Parent Trap

Homing Devices

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January 2008

Pass the Mike

by Ionel Belfiore

Sharing the stage—and the limelight—with HIV

Who am I to be giving speeches and preaching about life to others? Why should I, a 19-year-old kid, have this great honor? The answer is that I acquired HIV at birth. This was in Romania, where I was abandoned to a poor orphanage with steel cribs and no diapers or hot water. I was adopted at age 3 by American parents and am now a freshman at Catholic University, in Washington, DC. I am healthy and lead a wonderful life. So, yeah, I speak out to help others who aren’t as fortunate. But that’s not the only reason.
My strongest motivation to speak is a pretty powerful memory I have. When I was 8, another boy who knew I was positive told me that by the age of 10, I would be dead. I kept this bottled in for a while, but eventually I broke down and my mom comforted me. My parents decided then that I should learn more about the virus.

I have often found that the hardest thing about giving speeches is not the speeches themselves but not letting all the attention get to my head. When I was younger I often felt delusions of grandeur and, to be honest, still do occasionally. I began to despise and attack myself for sullying the good nature of the cause. I now realize that it’s human to enjoy attention and it motivates me to give speeches and help raise awareness. So, I will accept this and use the part of me that enjoys the spotlight for the benefit of others. I don’t see any problem with it; it seems to me that everyone wins.   

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  comments 1 - 13 (of 13 total)    

Michael Crow, ODESSA TEXAS, 2008-02-03 23:00:45

Rob, Edmonton (Canada), 2008-02-03 12:37:43
Go for it!! Your motivation is heartfelt........it's human. Regardless of your motivation for helping others, getting the facts out about HIV is the key. You may speak about prevention, but someone will learn how you cope. You may speak about the meds, but someone will learn they need to prevent getting HIV. Sharing your story is helpful and necessary in helping keep others safe and well. Being in the spotlight may be necessary to be effective when sharing our experiences living with HIV.

PB, Atlanta, 2008-02-02 07:40:18
Congratulations on your wonderful life. There's nothing wrong with feeling you're getting something for yourself when you're giving to others. Many volunteers perform their work not just because they believe in what they're doing, but because it makes them feel good as well.

Keith, , 2008-02-02 00:56:32
I do understand your feelings. Though Idid not contract the virus till 11-04, I too have always been in the community and have been very welcomed. In short, with past work in this arena, I too am a proud spokesperson for us all. I do regret, that, at the moment I must be silent and it pains me greatly. I, like you, enjoy the attention as I too spread the word and show that we are viable and healthy people of society. Thanks for your article and best wishes!!!

cksk0101, Pittsbugh, PA., 2008-02-01 19:20:02
Ionel, You deserve to feel the spot light and feel the high that comes with that attention. You are doing so much for others and helping so many people, more than you'll ever know, so why should you not get something back. I applaud you myself.

Ed, Atlanta, GA USA, 2008-02-01 11:48:19
Ionel, I find great comfort in your self realization. You're not delusional. Don't be afraid to feel the love and don't be afraid to return it to your audience. My only advice is to enjoy the other components of your life--I'm jealous of your opportunity to attend school in DC. Cheers!

David, Palm Bay, 2008-02-01 07:20:28
We need more people to speak out, my girlfriend works for the health dept and she is a educator for HIV. Im the silent type, let us all be greatful to all of those who speak out and help all of those living with hiv and educating others. I have been poz for 19 years now, and i wanted to say THANKS.

Annie, Durban / South Africa, 2008-02-01 00:26:15
Dear Ionel, WOW! How humbled I feel after reading your post. THANK YOU! Bless you and your dearest parents for their unselfishness & all the love which they have so evidently bestowed upon you. Please continue your research, but do ensure that you learn BOTH SIDES of this evil 'curse', as there is MUCH dis-information which reaches the masses long before the real TRUTH does, and as a result, many millions are losing their lives totally unnecessarily - through sheer GREED! Love & light!

george, palmdesert, 2008-01-31 14:08:53
Its important to share what you have, let it all out. He is doing well and that is what is important. As others I have known, never shared, kept things bottled up and I believe that ended thier lives prematurely. Live life while you can. Lover those around you while you can, it does feel good.

Dennis Feeley MA MFT, Santa Barbara, CA, 2008-01-31 12:41:54
I have counseled, tested,disclosed and worked with HIV POZ persons since 1980, stories and examples of individuals such as this can inspire and motivate. Thank you for for helping all of us help each other.

Armando Barican, San Francisco, 2008-01-31 11:56:59
Bravo on your efforts to speak up for a generation that has become almost compalcent about the perils and hardships of living with AIDS. We certainly need the youth to be more vocal about the fact that AIDS is still a life-threatening illness and how we can take active measures to prevent its spread among youth. I hope your audience listens to and accepts your message. Take care.

Simona Nedelcu, Kendall Park, NJ, 2008-01-30 23:55:19

Theresa, Fond du Lac, 2008-01-30 23:31:32
I think he is a brave boy who i wish all the best to

comments 1 - 13 (of 13 total)    

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