January #31 : Go Fish - by Rachel Sarah

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Table of Contents

Michael Jeter Takes on Hollywood

Bastard Nation

The Eyes Have It?

Their Own Private Africa

Supreme Indecision

Come Together, Right Now

Over My Dead Body

What a Riot

All About Colleen

Barred and Dangerous

Second-Class Organs

Loaded News

Up All Night

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Do the White Thing

Go Fish

The Reconstruction Era

ICAAC: Pros and Cons

Simply Undetectable

One Singular Sensation

Mind Your ZZZs and Snooze

Ad Fib

Italian Yeast Fighter

Not Tonight, Honey

What Did I Do Right?

S.O.S.

Miss Diagnosis

Cyber POZ: TPAN Alley

Let the Sunshine In

Lady Bunny



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


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January 1998

Go Fish

by Rachel Sarah

Bermeo, famous for tuna and HIV

An HIV positive fisherman isn’t the image one recalls from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but that’s what José Unanue is.

"We’ve depended on the sea all of our lives," say Unanue, 39. Following in the footsteps of generations of fishermen, Unanue boarded his first boat at 18. Based in Bermeo, his hometown on the edge of the mountains in northern Spain’s Basque country, Unanue sailed the seas for six months a year, catching the tuna we buy canned in our local markets. And like Hemingway’s old man, Unanue met exotic women and dreamed about catching the big one.

Fish, that is, not AIDS. But12 years ago, Unanue was diagnosed with HIV, and told that he had two years to live. With a population of 18,000, Bermeo has the highest HIV rate per capita in Europe today – 164 residents have died of AIDS. Most fishermen contracted the virus through shared needles, and passed it on to their partners at home. "Men also had sexual relationships at port, and there were no condoms at port when I was at sea," says Unanue.

Unanue has since given up the sea to teach at a technical high school for adults. It’s less rugged than life in the salt spray, but he still faces challenges: When administrators found out that Unanue was positive, they threatened to fire him, even though AIDS had already claimed 20 of the students. Unanue fought back, and today he not only teaches but serves as a confidante to students.

This summer, Unanue’s medical exam reported a CD4 count of 740 and an undetectable viral load. "I’m not taking any medication and I’ve never opted to do so," he says.

Bermeo may be a tiny town in a Catholic country, but every summer, thousands of Spaniards drive north to attend a weeklong national AIDS conference hosted by tx0-Hiesa, an organization founded by Unanue. "Bermeo is a solidarity town," Unanue says, proudly wearing a red ribbon. "Not many people in Spain wear the red ribbon, but every time we plan something with respect to AIDS in Bermeo, everyone wears one."


Search: Jose Unanue, fisherman, The Old Man and the Sea




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