Reva, Virginia

Positive since 2014

I’d been juggling back and forth between different doctors. I had a bizarre growth on my tongue, and I kept getting oral thrush. I constantly had a high temperature, and my general practitioner was clueless and didn’t know what was wrong and kept sending me home saying I had the flu. Finally, it all came to a crashing halt when I became unconscious with a temperature of 107. At the hospital, doctors discovered I had meningitis. After two weeks of being unconscious, I awoke to discover how bad things were. My CD4 cell count was zero, and my viral load was in the millions. I should have been dead. But slowly, day by day, I got better. I finally got out of the hospital after a month. I will never forget that day: October 13, 2014. It was just one month after I was diagnosed HIV positive.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Hardheaded, persistent, fighter.

What is your greatest achievement?

Walking out of the hospital after weeks in the ICU.

What is your greatest regret?

My promiscuous behavior during my early years as a gay male.

What keeps you up at night?

Not knowing if one day the medicine will stop working.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?

Stigma associated with being HIV positive.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Never give up and live every day like it’s the last.

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?

The doctors at UVA Hospital for keeping me here today.

What drives you to do what you do?

Knowing that I’m not alone and that there are a lot of people living with HIV—and the hope at some point in time there will be a cure.

What is your motto?

Live every day like it’s the last.

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?

My partner.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?

A donkey because I am stubborn.