Posts Tagged ‘hiv positive’

“She grabbed me in her arms, put me in her arms, and whispered in my ear ‘we will get through this’ to hear those words by my mother were like…it was the most amazing moment in life.”

Adrian Neil Jr. Shares his heart warming story about when he was first diagnosed.

 

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catharsis dec. 14

 

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Catharsis: A World AIDS Day Event

Date: Monday, November 30, 2015

I am Thomas John Davis an NMAC Youth Scholar

To kick off World AIDS Day I am collaborating with The Lula Washington Dance Theater with an event entitled “Catharsis”. The goal of this event is to raise awareness around HIV & AIDS by using performance art as the ice breaker to start conversations between parents, youth, artists, and advocates about disclosure, support, getting tested, and what living with HIV is like. The event will feature professional dancers and testimonies from people living with HIV as well as their allies.

Target Audience and Importance

The doors are open to everyone but the focused group is Parents and their children. I’ve chosen to focus on these two groups in particular because that’s where the information needs to start to make a change in how we talk about HIV when it comes to prevention. Children follow what their parents know weather they are aware of it or not. To lower stigma and increase the flow of valid information into a child’s life we have to also give parents the information so they are informed and up-to-date. By having youth attend with their families we are giving them an opportunity to ask questions about what they saw and to give them information that may be updated from what their parents know. This way the child and parent are getting information together.

 

The agenda for the evening

The event will start out with a quick “what do you know about HIV?” to figure out where the audience stands. This is meant to be a brief but informative section that will transition into the first performance. The first piece is about the challenges two friends face when one of them discloses that he is HIV+. This piece will be followed by a testimony from an ally who saw a family member pass away from HIV related complications. The second piece is about a patient going to the clinic to get their labs drawn for the first time. This piece is followed by a testimony from Thomas Davis and what it was like to be told that he was HIV+ and what he did from there. The final piece is a duet followed by a testimony from a sero-discordant couple and how they navigate their relationship where HIV is concerned. After each testimony/story questions and conversations are encouraged.

                                                                                    

Why dance?

When it comes to talking about HIV we tend to find the same conversations happening over and over again and as necessary as these conversations are we need to find more innovative and engaging ways of presenting them. Using dance as a way to communicate and tell a story is a great way to educate and inspire people. You are able to escape the idea that everything you say needs to be “Politically Correct”. It’s a way for the audience to experience a story rather then having one talked at them. To show this one of the pieces being shown is filmed below. This is a story of the struggles a couple goes through when HIV is introduced into their relationship. This piece is about the anxieties of the waiting room and was used to start conversations about testing, doctors visits, support, and dating. Do you go and get tested with your partner? When was the last time you two talked about your sexual health to each other? If one of you was positive would the other stay? All these questions and many more are asked in the heads of these two individuals as they wait.

The Long Wait

Choreographed by: Thomas Davis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm6f1PhG5eo

 

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On the Daybreak this morning, Noel Cayasso-Smith and guest speaker Thomas Davis talk about CAF’s mission.

Mr. Davis’ presentation will focus on the stigma and discrimination with persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Cayasso-Smith says that there’s so much discrimination and that it has stopped people from getting tested.”It’s a community awareness thing with the stigma and awareness that we are trying to break,” he said.

Mr. Davis shares his story of when he was diagnosed with HIV in his early 20′s. He also said education is important and that not educating young people can cause more harm than good.

This is the third year that CAF has hosted this event.

Thomas shares the moment when he told his parents he was HIV+ and talks about what the year was like disclosing.

Sources: CDC Fact sheets (Understanding the continuum)

12/07/2014

By Benjamin Di’Costa

IMG_0297It’s World AIDS Day, and researchers, advocates and patients are taking measure of efforts to combat the spread of HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that of the estimated 1.2 million Americans who have HIV, 86 percent are aware of their status. However, just 40 percent are receiving medical care for the virus. One barrier to treatment could be the persistent stigma that many HIV-positive young people face. Here’s a relevant scene (and one that’s not uncommon in this, the Year of the Young Advocate):

World AIDS Day 2014… And here I am a  young gay male—urban, professional, culturally and politically savvy—walking down the street in the “Gayborhood” called Wilton Manors here in Fort Lauderdale. It was a beautiful day and not a cloud in sight.  in which it’s common to see men walking hand in hand to the local Starbucks, or making their way to their morning workouts when out of nowhere I hear from across the street shout, ” You are not worth life and you should die!” says the middle aged gay male.

Being a person who faced discrimination for being gay I just blew it off and kept walking down the street when another younger gay male mumbles under his breath “Dirty Faggot”. Now at this point I was taken back by this statement being that I was in a LGBT neighborhood where pretty much every lifestyle was accepted. What was it about me just walking down the street that caused such negative reactions from the community?

I look down and realize that I was wearing my No Shame in Being HIV+ Shirt from RiseUptoHIV and then it all hit me at once that this in fact had nothing to do with my sexual orientation but was solely about me wearing a shirt with HIV+ written on it? As I continue into a local Starbucks that morning and then notice the countless stares and whispers that were coming from patrons enjoying their morning cup of coffee.

Here I am a young 24 year old gay male who actually doesn’t live with HIV but I am in encountering countless acts of HIV stigma within my own community. Up until this point I had never understood what it felt like to be stigmatized and when I sat down and really reflected on what just happened a wave of emotion just hit me, I realized that at the end of the day I can take off this shirt and the stigma ends but what about those who are living with HIV? Those living with HIV don’t get to choose when the stigma comes and when it goes it is something that is commonly faced within the Gay and Bisexual community particularly minority communities.

So you may be asking, What now? Where do we go from here? 

There are many ways we can all fight HIV stigma in our lives and in our community, whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative:

  • Break the silence surrounding HIV stigma in our community. Talk about your experiences, fears and concerns about getting HIV or transmitting HIV with friends, a counselor, or a fuck buddy.
  • Learn how to better deal with and react when a guy tells you he has HIV.
  • Take responsibility for the prevention of HIV. The prevention of HIV is a responsibility that all gay men share – HIV-positive, HIV-negative and HIV status unknown.
  • Challenge attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to HIV stigma. Don’t be a silent witness to it when it happens around you.
  • Avoid using language that overtly stigmatizes others.
  • Treat guys with HIV as you would treat anyone else: with respect, empathy, and compassion.
  • Get informed about how to protect yourself from HIV and be confident in that knowledge. We know how to prevent HIV.
  • If you have difficulty playing safe, take charge of your sexual health and get the help you need to ensure you do not get infected with or transmit HIV.

Are there other things you can think of to fight HIV stigma?

Email Info@ThePozLife.Com or Tweet Us @ThePozLife!

And remember Positivity Is Everything! 

PEP and PrEP. One is used as an emergency medication (PEP) and the other as a daily pill (PrEP). These two drugs have been available to the public since the FDA approved them in 2012. When used correctly they can reduce the chances of you acquiring HIV by up to 96%.

In the past 2 years those of us that work in HIV have heard many debates about these two pills. Who should take them, how effective they are, and weather or not this is a step in the right direction of creating an AIDS free generation. The public, however has not been able to gather that much information on these two pills. Due to many differences in opinion and health providers not having a general knowledge of about PEP and PrEP, most people that wish to learn more about this new prevention method or be prescribed it, have had to search for clinics that specialize in this matter. But regardless on the differences of opinion on PEP and PrEP it is imperative that we get as much information out about these two pills so the consumers can better decide if this prevention method is right for them.

Most recently the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released new materials to encourage people to find out more about PrEP and if it is something they should be using. They have a whole section on their website that give you all the information about PEP and PrEP: Whet they stand for, the difference between the two, how often you should be taking them, lists of providers and clinics, how effective it is WHEN THE PATIENT ADHERE’S TO THE MEDICATION, and information on those that provide them. After sharing this website with a few peers and co-workers, they walked away knowing a lot more about PEP and PrEP. I even learned a few new things. The website gave out the information in an easy and informative way.

They also had several new images that have been placed on posters, pamphlets, and post cards with various slogans. These images had a different reaction when I showed them to the same co-workers and peers. I then asked what they felt and why when seeing these images and if they would consider PrEP or PEP as a prevention method after seeing them. I got a wide range of opinions which I will share but first, take a look at these images and ask yourself the same question.

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find more info at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/living/prep-pep.shtml

 

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Nova Salud put on another amazing event as myself and other individuals who are affected by HIV took time out of their schedules to model amazing clothes by Juan Jose Saenz-Ferreyros and his line Ferreyros Couture Company.  Thank you all who came out to give back to Nova Salud as they continue to provide excellent services to the Northern Virginia region.  Also, a huge thank you for all the sponsors and O Mansion for making this event happen.    

 

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For more information on Nova Salud click here.  

A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with HIV. As the year progressed I started disclosing my status to my friends, family, and of course my sexual partners. There was always the initial shock from everyone when I would disclose my HIV status. They would gasp, clutch their pearls, and scratch their heads, because for some reason they could not wrap their head around the fact that I was HIV positive.

My sex life did not change. The only thing that was different was that I would disclose my status to my sexual partners. I put my status on my Jack’d account and made sure people read my profile and just to be safe I would bring up the subject before things got to an intimate setting. To this day, I still have yet to have someone tell me that there was a lack of interest based on my status. In fact, most guys seem okay with the fact that I am positive. I am happy to experience this, but it definitely is never the reaction I expect. One thing I started to hear a lot was “Well it’s okay you don’t even look positive,”….ummmmm excuse me?

I’m not sure what people expected to see. Maybe they thought I would look “sick” or tired or beat up and miserable from finding out my status. Instead of being offended by what they said, I wanted to know why they did not think I looked positive. I would ask them: what does “sick” look like? If I take care of myself, why should I look tired or beat up? What does HIV look like? Have you EVER been able to tell by looking at someone? No one had answers for me but it was clear that to them I, “Just don’t LOOK HIV positive.”

HIV is a virus. It is INSIDE you. It is not something you can see. You cannot tell who has HIV just by looking at them. Having HIV does not make you “sick”. The ONLY way you can know your status and your partner’s status is to BE TESTED. That’s it. You can’t see, smell, or feel it.

  • I am a 22
  • I am HIV positive
  • I am African American
  • I am Latino
  • I am a man who has sex with other men
  • I am part of the demographic that is most affected by HIV
  • We are the ones with the most newly diagnosed cases
  • We are the ones that seem to be shocking the nation with the outstanding numbers of just how many of us are acquiring this virus.

Therefore, the notion that I do not “look” HIV positive is FALSE. Currently, I am what HIV looks like. 

 

 

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New Year New Us!

So bringing in 2014 there will be many of our loved ones, friends, family, colleagues, and strangers who will be ready to begin their New Year Resolutions in hopes of completing them all by the end of the year.  Let’s be honest though, who ever completes every single New Years’ Resolutions?  This year I plan to do something different that I think will be successful and I invite you all to do the same.

I often tell people that my HIV diagnosis two years ago involved me going through a sort of metamorphosis.  During this process I evolved as a person, on very physical, emotional, and spiritual levels that were all for good.  I saw things more clearly and made a point to go forward with any dreams I had.  Can anyone relate?  As an 18 year old in high school I wanted to do it all.  From an officer in the United States Coast Guard, a professional tennis player, entertainer, author, a business owner, and married to the most perfect partner with the most phenomenal family.   I honestly wanted to have it all.  As time went on and my dream of not making it in the military and my tennis lacking success, I began not to day dream as much about those potentials.  Days that were once spent always day dreaming about my potential future became replaced with more “realistic ideas,” that were more fitting of survival in this world.  When I was diagnosed with HIV my eyes flashed before my eyes.  Like I talk about in one of my first videos I could have easily not have opted to test for HIV.  By not testing my plan was to remain in denial for the rest of my life.  Due to this life-changing event I made a choice to look at all of my dreams again and find ways to make them happen.

How is this relevant many of you may ask?  Well it is simple.  As Brian Litrell says, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  I looked at ways I can give back to my community (advocating and speaking out about different things that negatively affect it).  Although there are policies that prevent me from serving in the military there is hope, and we should definitely continue to pressure Congress and the Department of Defense in allowing individuals living with HIV to serve their country.  I also started playing a tennis league and also starting to look for opportunities like using YouTube for my video blogging, singing, and other projects like the MTV documentary to entertain individuals from around the world.  In 2014 I will also be focusing time on my book and creating a line of products I hope you all will enjoy.

I think it is important that we all reach out for our dreams and wants, no matter what they are.  Illnesses or even failure should not keep us from fighting what we want.  If we pray on our dreams, continue to work on them, and have affirmations then they will happen.  Affirmations are very important and Dr. Harra explains this very well in her Huffington Post Article.    Even if you are completing them at 50% that is better than never thinking you can.

  My three challenges for you all this year is very simple:

  1. 1.    Be there for others because there is always room to do more in this department.  Even by giving a friend a hug, a text during the day saying you are thinking of them, a nice thank you message to your boss (even if they are incompetent), and even saying congratulations or liking a comment of a rival are ways you can be there for others.  Volunteering your time or even donating to an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) or Community Based Organization (CBO) can be a way to give back.  A database of such organizations can be found here.
  2. 2.    Patching up issues with adversaries.  This is something that is very hard for me.  This will be tough for me because I may forget about the past but never forget, which can affect my actions.  We should learn how to forgive people for what they do and say.  No one is perfect so apologies are definitely fitting.  Our egos can be huge barriers at times where reconciliation can take place.
  3. 3.    Personal Growth can take place is so many different forms.  This can be traveling more, taking more vacations, learning a new skill, making new friends, soul searching, and even getting to a place where you can be more open about your HIV status. Personal growth can also include things professionally.  There is always room for self-improvement and we should always look at ways to better ourselves.

These three simple things can reach literally every goal people make each year.  I also think that to be able to accomplish these goals we have to have more realistic expectations.  A perfect example is how in the first of the year gyms see an increase of activity that soon tapers off by February/March.  By easing into to being physically active and going to the gym on a more consistent basis you start of small with goals like going at least 3 times a week for an hour or so, and then increasing it weekly with an additional day until you are going at a frequency that balances out in your everyday life.  Writing my book has seriously resulted in nothing ever happening past a few sentences a quarter; however, now I will dedicate a few minutes out of the day to brainstorm and write a few things.  The following month I will increase my writing to something more consistent and realistic to completing by the end of the year.  Fixing interpersonal issues can take place with exes, ex-friends, lack of a father-son relationship, etc.  They may not be enemies but I think that working on improving communication and ending conflicts helps to relieve stress and drama in one’s life.

In 2014 will you work on reaching the moon by having reasonable expectations and progress that will take place over time? Or will you rush into something head on, burn out, and give up halfway through?  Again HIV does not mean we cannot accomplish our dreams, so we must make sure that we don’t give up if we hit a brick wall.  Breaking through that wall and overcoming our fears and anxieties about such possibilities will result in us having success on some level.


IMG_0766  In this New Year and beyond it is important to simply do what is best for you.  Also, keeping in mind that this also includes doing what is needed to manage your HIV and all other outside sources that may influence it.  If anyone has issues with you or the healthier choices you are making to better yourself, then be the fabulous person you are and keep on strutting into the future!

ImageSo I know many of you have wondered where I’ve been.  Well, after a year phenomenal year of amazing events and opportunities that has opened up for PozLifeofPatrick and me.  These opportunities would not have happened without others seeing my potential and giving me a chance.

On December 18, 2012 I created the blog to chronicle my life living with HIV and to provide opportunities for others to lend their voices.  Being open with my status allows me to help educate others, break down stigma, and break the silence that so many of my positive brothers and sisters live in. Many living with HIV lay in silence because of the fear of stigma and discrimination based off of their status.  I have worked very hard and seen success in my mission to decrease stigma and increase understanding around this virus that affects so many.  On the other end of the very sharp double-edged sword I continue to see a lack of understanding and openness to HIV, even more prevalent in my dating life.   Call me strange or too young for love, but throughout this year I helplessly made myself vulnerable in an effort to try to find a significant person to be in my life.  As I approach a 2014 I can report and say that at this moment in time I am very much single; however, my priorities have changed.

Image  By being able to start my new career in the non-profit sector is where everything started.  I was able to interact with many individuals through community HIV outreach, education, and testing.  Also, working with NMAC with their Youth Initiative to End HIV/AIDS in America, and its HIV-positive Leadership Working Group of their National HIV Health Literacy and Wellness Initiative.  This year I was also given the opportunity featured alongside another fabulous HIV advocate, Guy Anthony on Blackmenrise.org where we talk about in more detail about our lives.  Through NMAC’s Youth Initiative I was able to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana for USCA 2013.   There I learned more about HIV and those who are affected by it, networked with so many different individuals and organizations, moderated a discussion on storytelling and HIV, made new allies/friends, and overall took away an amazing invaluable and indescribable experience.

Image            Throughout this year I was also able to be brought on as the Testing Coordinator to The Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS) where with the help of a dedicated prevention team helped to test, diagnose, and link more individuals to care then we ever have.  With being given a special grant called CAPUS, we will be able to reach more affected populations to educate, test, and link any individual who is HIV-positive into care.

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Also, I was featured alongside other youth in an MTV Staying Alive Documentary, “My Sex Life and Everyone Else’s.”  This

documentary may not have been rainbows and butterflies for me, but it gives me a stage to continue the dialogue of what it is like to live with HIV and deal with the struggle to get out of the stages of grief and guilt.  Looking back now I can honestly say that I am light years away from that time period in my life.

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           Other highlights of my year was running The Marine Corps Marathon and Anthem Richmond Marathon back-to-back, and helping to raise almost $20,000 for The Grassroots Project’s Team Grassroots.  Also, working with ACCESS AIDS in the Hampton Roads region to help further the discussion that needed to take place to people of color.

            There are many things that I can rant on about but I already feel like folks may think that I am being narcissistic; however, this is more about showing people that if I can do this in one year then why can’t you, a community, or a nation.  I have said it before but I am serious about making pozlifeofpatrick more about others in 2014.  I started the process of having my live show, PozLifeLive, where I bring on others to share their stories, experiences, and work for the world.  Also, by opening up my blog up for others to share it gives the opportunity to have an even greater experience when you visit my website or channel. Image