Positive since 2008
I was born in Watertown, New York and moved to southwest Florida in 1989. My father died my senior year of high school, which forced me to become the man of the house. I have had many jobs since moving to Florida, mostly in the hotel industry.
In 2008 I had an epically bad year. I was diagnosed with HIV. The following day, I lost my job of seven years. Then, my mom died in May.
I became very self-destructive and ended up entering a 35-day treatment program for drugs and alcohol. While I was in the program, I was approached by the "HIV lady" to tell my story. I agreed to share it and wrote a timeline of my life from high school to the present day. I was truly amazed at the impact my story had on the audience. Even grown straight men were crying.
Today, I continue to share my story with others. I don't tell it for the shock value—I only do it to educate others. I have decided that no matter how hard I try, I “can't save all the kittens!" But if I reach just one person in the group, my job is done!
I have been struggling to get disability since 2009. Since HIV is a treatable disease, it’s been difficult to obtain but I don't plan on giving up. I have worked all of my adult life and would never "scam" anyone. I only want to continue to live my boring little life.
Fortunately, I have an awesome doctor and the staff at my doctor's office is very knowledgeable. I do a lot of Internet research on HIV/AIDS so I stay informed.
Knowledge is power!
What three adjectives best describe you?
Enigmatic, fascinating and humorous
What is your greatest achievement?
Speaking about HIV to a group of 300 kids in middle school
What is your greatest regret?
Being careless in my 20s
What keeps you up at night?
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
What is the best advice you ever received?
Be myself and continue to educate others
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
What drives you to do what you do?
There is so much I want to do with my life. I'm NOT done yet!
What is your motto?
"I can't save all the kittens!"
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My family photos
If you could be any animal, what would you be?