May 2, 2011
Robert Chodo Campbell
Buddhist counselor, peacemaker, founder of New York City’s Zen Center for Contemplative Care, positive for 28 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?
“You look fabulous!”
What change or development in your treatment for HIV has most affected your life—for better or worse?
I stopped taking Zerit, which stopped facial wasting.
What is your refuge from thinking about and dealing with your health?
I take refuge in the fact that everything is impermanent, including my virus. It is constantly changing, as am I. Also, I meditate daily and work out regularly.
What one thing has most aided your survival, and how difficult is it to overcome stigma?
My Buddhist practice, which informs all my relationships. Stigma is ignorance. I don’t hang out with ignorant people.
Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime—and if so, will you benefit from it?
Yes, and I will benefit, knowing that possibly there will be an end to suffering for so many innocent children.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
Never ever ever feel less than the person standing next to you.
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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