May 2, 2011
Impassioned and empowered minister, HIV/AIDS ministry director at Metropolitan Community Church in DC, positive for 23 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?
Probably the most helpful thing I have been told over the past 23 year years of living with HIV is: “In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.”
What change or development in your treatment for HIV most affected your life—for better or worse?
In 30 years of the AIDS pandemic, nearly 30 million people around the world have died. Medical advances have changed my death sentence to a more treatable long-term disease.
What is your refuge from thinking about and dealing with your health?
God is my refuge and my strength. My faith helps me change any negative thoughts that I might have. It has also has been very helpful in dealing with the anxiety and depression that can so often affect those of us living with HIV.
What has been your major economic challenge since testing positive?
My greatest challenge has been the countless thousands of dollars I have spent on medical deductibles for doctor’s visits and medications. In addition, being HIV positive once limited my ability to change jobs for fear of not being able to obtain health insurance.
What one thing has most aided your survival, and how difficult is it to overcome stigma?
My association with Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) has been instrumental to my survival. The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson has provided great spiritual strength to me.
The only way to overcome stigma is to come out of the HIV closet and share our status—and our powerful stories. If we combine our voices, we can go far in silencing the stigma of HIV/AIDS.
Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime—and if so, will you benefit from it?
No one can predict the future. No one can be certain that a cure will or will not be found. But if we let negative thoughts and pessimism dominate our thinking, I can assure you that we will not see a cure in our lifetime.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
I would tell that person, “God loves you, and God wants you to take care of yourself. Remember, the diagnosis is not a death sentence. Reach out and ask for help. There is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. You are not alone!”
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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