Posts Tagged ‘hiv positive’

So I landed in New Orleans around 11:30 am local time and was full of nervousness, anticipation, and a desire to complete my mission. My mission, which I chose to accept would be to represent people of my organization , NMAC’s Youth Initiative, and most importantly people living with HIV. My goals were to network, gain knowledge, and make connections that could help my community of Fredericksburg, VA and overall the increased number of people who are HIV Positive. You will notice for a first time I did not take any pictures of me on this trip. This is because attending this conference was not about me but more about the work that needed to be done. I was focused and ready to accomplish my mission. On the flight in I had already noticed so many of my friends and colleagues from the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) and was excited and relieved that I would know some people there.

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Arriving to the Hyatt Regency Conference Hotel I was amazed and thought to myself “wow USCA knows how to impress!” Arriving at the hotel I had made my way to the elevator and after ten minutes of trying to figure out how to operate it made my way up to my hotel room. While heading up to the room I turned around to the amazing view of The Superdome. It was gargantuan and a reality check that I had arrived. The room I was to reside in for four days was amazing. After spending the afternoon showering, grabbing lunch, and resting it was now time to head downstairs for the youth reception. It was there that I met amazing young people who had the same interest in ending this epidemic as I do. Words cannot describe the feelings of joy that I had being in a room with people who were also down for the cause. After that reception things just took off. From a dinner presentation about resilience from awesome plenary discussions about ending AIDS in the south, Perspectives on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), The Engagement Challenge, Personal stories surrounding HIV, and Implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Plenary sessions were

75925_10100476512901135_193260318_n1237426_509191059164700_2050760092_ogreat and I truly benefited from hearing personal stories. Mondo Guerra from Project Runway was present and took the time to speak and take pictures with us (thanks to Advocates For Youth for working to set that up). He thanked us for doing what we did and told us to stay vigilant in getting the word out and having those important conversations about HIV. What really shocked me was his persistence to stay and talk with us despite behind the scenes people trying to move him along. That spoke volumes on how big this opportunity was for me and the other scholars. I know Duane Cramer from our initial meeting at this year’s DC Black Pride; however, he continues to amaze through his friendliness and hard work.

The workshop sessions for me were the essential meat and potatoes of this conference. On the first official day of the conference I attended a session on Comprehensive Sexual Health Education as HIV Prevention, which was very interesting to be in. I had no idea that many states still only taught abstinence. I know that in my own high school career comprehensive sexual education was briefly mentioned while abstinence was more emphasized, but wow six years later and still no major moves. That was very disappointing to hear; however, we were told to reach out to our state representative and even the school board (which has huge power) to push for more comprehensive sexual education in our school systems. On day one we had a welcome to the whole Youth Initiative which went over roles, responsibilities, and expectations. This also allowed us additional time to get to know more about us and also what we were expecting from the conference. That session wrapped up day one and I spent the rest of the evening catching up on my homework which I was so behind on. IMG_1484

The start of day two went awesome. I awoke got ready for the day and made my way down to a very informal roundtable discussion for people living with HIV. The topic that was presented by the moderator Alex Garner of NMAC was “How do we bridge the intergenerational gap?” I was one of the very few young people in the room and I have to admit that I was so nervous and overwhelmed. In the room was Peter Staley, one of the original founding members of ACT UP New York, Oriol Gutierre of Poz.com and Poz Magazine, and Mark S. King successful creator of Myfabulousdisease.com and the web-series “The Real Poz Guys of Atlanta,” just to name a few. I was so humbled to be able to be in the presence of such great people. Most importantly I was able to listen to their stories, their wants, and most importantly their needs. What I got from this standing room only session was that many of the more experienced advocates were tired and were ready to pass on the torch to the next generation. Bear in mind many have been fighting the long hard battle for more than 30 years!! I also was given the floor to share my experiences and my thoughts, which I would have never imagined almost two years ago when I first learned my status. Peter Staley said something that really has and will continue to sit with me. He stated that it was depressing to see the HIV stigma among gay men. Every gay man who lives with HIV has experienced this before. It is heartbreaking to be treated differently from people in general let alone your own community. From the room I took away many connections and also support from strangers who turned quickly into my new extended family.

1017031_10200804696179231_2032299150_n The next session was one I was involved in. I was moderating a panel and audience discussion on Storytelling Using the Media & Cultural Arts. I was very honored that I was given the ability to moderate and lead this discussion as well as work alongside other intelligent and committed youth initiative scholars. The presentation went really well and we discussed how social media like Facebook ,Twitter, Blogging, and Vlogging can be effective tools in storytelling. Cultural arts are also very important. Taija, an Alaskan Native who was a panelist of this session shared with us how storytelling in her community is important. She shared a video with us, which served as a great example.

I also want to give a huge thanks to my other panelist Derek Hernandez and Felton Beeks who provided great feedback and knowledge surrounding social media tools that can be utilized. That evening we had the pleasure to meet Dr. Jack Whitescarver, Ph.D., NIH Associate Director for AIDS Research and Director, Office of AIDS Research. We all sat around informally as he told us the story on how he first was introduced to HIV/AIDS. It was very beneficial and I am greatly appreciative of the time Dr. Whitescarver took out to meet and talk with us.

On the morning of day three I attended a session on Engaging People Living with HIV in a Changing Environment. I am not going to lie I was a little late to the session due to engaging and networking with someone who is a fan of the pozlife stopping me (networking happens often in spaces like this). I slide into the session to notice my colleague Venton Jones of The National Black Gay Mens Advocacy Coalition on the panel of the discussion. My work doing the pozlifeofpatrick was highlighted by Venton and he asked me to tell everyone in the room about my story. So I quickly gave a synopsis of how I found out my status and why I created the blog (for you!) and before I knew it I was being followed by AIDS.GOV, the amazing Josh Robbins of Imstilljosh.com! A huge thank you to Venton Jones for giving me that opportunity to discuss the pozlifeofpatrick and the effectiveness it has been in engaging both HIV Positive and Negative individuals. In the afternoon I attended two sessions on Strategizing and Mobilizing to End the Epidemic and another session on PrEP Messaging. Both sessions had participation by youth initiative scholars and I was gaining so much knowledge from the points that were discussed. I particularly loved the discussion about PrEP. Start talking about innovations and expanding the prevention toolbox and I am there! It was a great discussion which really focused on the importance of PrEP and the role it will play going into the future in regards to decreasing new infections of HIV.

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On day four all the youth initiative scholars met and we closed out the session. I attended the lunch plenary session but left early to prepare to depart for the airport. For me it was a bittersweet moment. I have never really been to a summer camp I actually enjoyed; however, for four days I felt as if I was on top of the world. Where else but at my first USCA conference was I able to network with so many movers and shakers in the field of HIV, but most importantly be surrounded by like-mined young people who will be alongside me to take the torch and continue the fight. On my flight back I tried to think about what I really enjoyed about The U.S. Conference On AIDS overall and I would have to say outside of the sessions it had to be the people. For me it was fantastic interacting with such great people. From Paul Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC spending as much time as he could around the youth initiative scholars to the NMAC staff providing guidance and a very unofficial form of mentorship throughout this entire process. To Viiv Healthcare for having fantastic people speaking and engaging with us. Also, the Magic Johnson Foundation for being apart of the process and speaking on the last day about the importance of what we are doing as future leaders in our communities. Over a huge thank you to The National Minority AIDS Council for creating this initiative for me to be apart of. USCA 2013 had other major sponsors that helped to create an event of a lifetime for me. 1270341_509194375831035_858202610_o

I am already in the planning stages to attend USCA 2014 in San Diego, California and am excited to be apart of that conference. I know that more work has to be done to improve the treatment cascade so that more individuals living with HIV have undetectable viral loads. That takes place by having more prevention with people living with HIV. It is important to engage the community and getting them involved in the fight against HIV. Also, that ACA is right around the corner and will transport healthcare to a new destination we have never seen before. Leaving USCA 2013 I know that many understand the importance of PrEP to help reduce HIV transmissions. At the next conference I will be sure to bring empty luggage so I can take as many things as possible from the exhibition area. I appreciated the condoms, lube, pamphlets, posters, and other things that can be distributed in my community that needs these resources. I will always keep the youth initiative scholars of 2013 very close to me. In four days I developed friendships and camaraderie with these special young people I know I will be working with closely in the future.

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Video on Dating advice and guide (including tips) on how to navigate muddy waters for people living with HIV.

My greatest fears
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All of us no matter how big or small have fears. They can be the smallest thing to one person yet to another something so significant. People say to me “Patrick, you are so fearless you must not be afraid of anything.” Actually I am very much so afraid of things. I am open enough with myself and also with you to tellyou that I am not perfect nor has my life been perfect (blessed but not perfect).
 
I believe that so many times we try to give this portrayal of perfection, you know always saying we wear condoms, saying we always get tested for STIs/HIV, telling being you know who you mess around with status (and their HIV/STI status), having the best relationship and communication, having a 4.0 average, etc. etc. etc. We all know that for the most part that is a crock of bull. No one on this earth is perfect and by constantly walking around acting like our stuff does not stink.  Instead we should acknowledge our impurities and use it as a building block. Life is like one of those machines in the hospital that shows the heartbeat, constantly going up and down. That is the point of life…. We all go through ups and downs, without it we would be dead.
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So let’s see back in the day I was never perfect about using condoms, I never was properly educated on sexual health, my family is dysfunctional as hell (no picket fences or 7th heaven), I am an emotional eater, I do not see myself as attractive, and that is just scratches on the surface. So what are you impurities that make you human and how can you work to use them to your advantage to better yourself?
 
My greatest fears…. Well let’s see, the best thing to do is to do this in bullet points
 
  • I am afraid of the dark
  • I am afraid of the Nesquik bunny
  • I am afraid of any person dressed up as a character or animal (Disney World is a no-go
  • I fear never knowing where I got HIV from or if that person(s) infected others knowing/unknowingly
  • I fear my friends and colleagues having to go though the things I have gone through in the past year of being newly diagnosed
  • I fear by having family that is in shambles and a father that does not truly give me 100 percent that I will be the same to my children and they do the same to their children
  • I will die before seeing my 80th+ birthday
  • Being alone
  • Not leaving a legacy or not touching at least one person’s life
  • I will not live to see a cure or vaccine for HIV
  • Seeing more of my friends and community being continuously affected by with HIV
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This list goes on and on but those are my greatest fears. I think in the black and latino community that showing weakness is shown by discussing shortcomings, fears, and defects; however, in all actuality by discussing such personal and difficult things shows strength and bravery. How do we correct this? What are your fears and will you be brave to talk about them?
 

ImageSo in previous blog and vlog entries I have discussed how I have basically had my status in the past placed all over facebook and how I had people calling and texting me asking if I had AIDS and if I was going to die.  It was such an humiliating experience that made me leave social media all together.  The last thing I needed at that time where I was not even comfortable with my status were people talking about it to my face, behind my back, and having my family members who thought I was going to die find out that my little secret was out.

Disconnecting from social media all his time was not hard at all.  To be honest with you it was a much mental break because besides escaping what I felt like was a scarlet plus sign (+) it allowed me the time I needed to escape its grasps and focus that energy on getting things done.  Rather than being so fixated on constantly seeing and competing (YES I AM GOING TO BE HONEST) with what everyone else was doing I was marching to the beat of my own drum.  The feeling being so totally independent was empowering.  I was truly able to find myself throughout this past year.

From time to time I did think about coming back on; however, I was afraid to look at my inbox, direct messages, or mentions about me so therefore I stayed away.  It is quite sad on how something so petty like a facebook account could keep me away from people from so long.  Friends graduated from school, had babies, started awesome careers, or moved to new locations and I was not able to be in the loop on those things and I feel so bad about it.

To be honest about things I also did not know how people would react to the news.  I will be the first to admit but the old me was a cross between Wendy Williams and one of those gossiping queens you see reading people with no shame… just always up in someones business.  Because of that I knew for a fact that if I was doing it and talking about other people then they were doing it about me, and for the first time in my life I realized how hurtful it was (I really could not stand the heat in the kitchen).  There was a fear of what my peers would think.  Would they think I contracted the virus by being promiscuous and sleeping around with just anyone?  Would they thing that I was a druggie and always needed a fix?  Would they think that I was less than them?  Would they think that I did not deserve to be around them, their children, or groups of friends?  These things ran through my mind and the last thing I wanted was to walk back into the hallways of Phoebus High School or hell even Hampton, Virginia at that and have people whispering or staring me down.  It placed me in a shell and I refused to let anyone in unless I knew for a fact they had my best interest.  For that time I only had four people who were not family nor a traitor.  These four people stood by my side and gave me constant encouragement and I think that it would only be suitable to let you know who they were.  JP, Davia, Corey, and Donna were in my corner every step of the way and kept my spirits up through it all.  There were days were I did not want to get out of bed but a simple text from Davia saying “Wake that ass up,”… or “Where the hoes at?” was all it took to make me laugh and tackle the day.  Having JP there emotional and showing me that there was love after something so traumatic also made it that much easier.  Hugs from Corey and having someone to talk to and go to my appointments or talk medications was also great to have.  To have Donna there to keep my spirits up with words of encouragements and unconditional love also did wonders for my spirit.  You see, social media did nothing but place me in a constant panic and in my belief everything happens for a reason.  So, I needed to take a break and spend some face-to-face time with people.

This month I have to some extent completed my metamorphosis and am now able to say that I am honestly proud of who I am.  I tell people that if it was not for HIV I would not be the responsible, mature, outgoing, and devoted friend/brother/cousin/employee/etc. that I am today.  See we all have to go through difficult situations to grow and better ourselves.  I wish someone would sit here and say to themselves that they have grown and matured without having to go through hardships………….. my point exactly.

So tonight I reactivated my Facebook because not the HIV/AIDS community that I live in needs to know that we are just as normal and fun as anyone else, but my friends, family, and colleagues need to know the same as well.

I am no longer afraid of possibly missing out on a job or fake friends because of my status because I know that in my life there is a greater purpose and something so much bigger than myself.  For sure I will make it to where I need to go (rather the road is easy or not).

So with that said if you love me then love me… if you hate me then keep it pumping because 2013 is the year of change and making things happen……..

I simply do not have the time to entertain negative thoughts or actions, and this also includes any form of shenanigans or tomfoolery.

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Love,

Patrick

IMG_4111So today marks the first day in 2013 and in my mind I already know that there are big things in store for me and all of you reading this.  The key is that we have to fully understand our potential and really go after our dreams, needs, and overall wants.  Over the past year I have been through so much.  From my diagnosis, to losing people who I thought were suppose to be in my life, failed relationships (both romantic, friend, and work alike), and a feeling that even though things were going so great that I had hit a glass ceiling and I was just going to fall back to reality.

The days leading up to New Year’s Eve was very slow and relaxed. I am so happy and blessed as well to be able to make new friends who know about my status, read my blogs, and support me. I cannot explain how great it feels to finally feel as if my support system is finally closing up.  Prior to the next year I like to slow things down, reflect on the year, and begin to prepare for the next mentally and physically.  Also this year I opted to stay at home and relax and watch movies and just be a homebody (also to start the process of saving money and being more cost conscious- I will get to that in a bit).  So with the new year approaching I have set up my budget, come up with an action plan, and have cleared my mind of all negative thoughts to the best of my ability.  Everyone should always re-evauluate everything they have dealt with in the past year and work on coming up with a plan to improve upon.  We should all be seeking self-improvement always because it is essential in our development.

So you are probably wondering what my plans are for the new year, I promise I will definitely not disappoint so here it is… In 2013 I plan to be:

1. To be the best person I can be.

2. Be stronger and richer financially, emotionally, physically, and all other imaginable aspects.

3.  Work on getting my face out to the world (entertainment and news industry) to show that being open and disclosing one’s HIV status does not limit me (this may prove difficult but I will fight like hell with my blogs, vlogs, and starting the conversation to get results).

4.  Make friends and family a priority and be there for them.

5.  Hold on to the honest friends I have made and let the weak links go.

6. Never give up

7. Get with an organization where my skills and talents will help the LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS, and/or youth.

8.  Be a more independent individual

Overall my goal is simply this, to know that I have a higher calling and that this will be the year that I will make the changes necessary to being this journey.  For those who want to be apart of the ride are always welcome; however, for those who do not intend to support me or be on my side will be left out of something amazing.

I know I have the strength to make this happen but any support from my friends, family, follow, admirers, etc will help.  Like I said before, life is full of ups and downs so I really do hope that on down days I can look to the future and also your support.  With that said let’s make 2013 the year and the start of great things.

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Cheers to an awesome 2013 and beyond!

Love,
Patrick

So for the past couple of weeks I have come down sick.  At first my nose was running, which made me think it was just allergies or something.  Well two weeks later I am sitting here not able to breathe and dealing with a lung infection.  For me it is so strange and I can only attribute it to my HIV.  Before I would feel like I was coming on with a cold and  take some vitamins and a DayQuil and wake up the next day at 100 percent.  I tried the same remedy this time around and I woke up the next day feeling worse.

You see I don’t have the same immune system like I had before.  It has been severely compromised.  My T-Cell count was 116 when I was diagnosed.  Thank God I am at 240 and with an undetectable viral load to this day; however, a normal CD4 count in other negative individuals can be up in the thousands (usually between 800-1400 but average around 800-900).  So I went to my doctors office at Whitman Walker , which is apart of my four week check-in for the clinical trial  I am on (cobicistat), to give some blood for some tests to be run (which check my CD4 count, Viral Load, sugar levels, kidney function, and cholesterol).  They take about five vials of blood and it is quick and easy (I as well as many other HIV Positive people quickly get used to this part).  They take your vitals and ask you questions like when did you last take your medication and how you are feeling.  At this point I tell her how I was not feeling well and she told me to mention that to the physician that was scheduled to see me.  So to fast forward I saw the doctor and had my physical.  Also, I was told that my lungs were indeed infected.  So I was prescribed some medication and sent along my way.  Now for the next few days I am stuck taking multiple pills (2 Prezistas, 1Truvada, 1 Cobicistat, 1/2 Zpac/Antibiotic, 1 Pill to help with coughing, 1 vitamin) which really is not a big deal (one would think it would depress however not so much on my end).  Image

I guess I always fear that I will relapse and end up sick like I was when I was first diagnosed. The fear that my medical regiment to keep HiV at bay will not work is something that is always visibly clear in the back of my head.  I know that in life everyone goes through something rather it is financial, emotional, physically, etc. The bigger picture is that we all have our flaws but how we work to overcome these short comings or life changes is what really matters.

Even as a child I equated life to something similar as  “The Circle of Life.”  We are always out of something, about to go through something, in something, or just getting out of something.  This is a continuous cycle that never ends.  A phase may stall or take longer but it will continue at some point.  WIth all the good and the bad that has come with being positive I have become fixated more on instant gratification.  I want to do so much before the end of my time; however, I truly struggle slowing it down.

Regardless if we are rich, poor, healthy, sick, black, white, gay, straight, or whatever comparison you want to give we will all meet our maker at the end of the day (some later than others).  So all good things must come to an end.

-Patrick

So I am finally getting a hang of this blogging thing.  I find it so cool that people are reading.  It seriously means so much to me. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a father like figure of mines (I call him my gay father) and he asked me where my facebook went.  He was under

the impression that I went on a blocking spree and he was a victim of it.  It was actually much deeper and pressing issue than just me wanting to remove people from my life.  When I found out I was HIV Positive I did something that I still regret to this day.  I told a person who I will call “Ron,” about my new diagnosis.  Well this spread like wildfire across the social media spectrum and the rumors began to start shortly after.  I began to receive so many messages asking if there was anything that I wants to say or if I was going to die from AIDS.  I was so shocked to hear such accusations that I began to panic and stress myself out; however,  I tried to not let it get to me.

The situation that really threw me over the edge took place on Facebook one evening on February 4, 2011.  I got home and loaded up my Facebook and found something that looked strange coming from someone who I considered my friend’s profile.  I notice one picture that turned out to be a needle in his arm

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and what looked like blood going into a tube.  Another picture showed results of a HIV test that showed negative.  Now the next statement is what still keeps me fearful from social media to this day.  Shockingly I read his status that said something to the effect of there being diseased people with AIDS around him who will do nothing but infect everyone around him.  The status continued to say that people who were dying and spreading their AIDS was not welcome with his friends.  At that point I was literally sitting there with my mouth wide open, so surprised that my secret was finally out, maybe not with my name attached but still exposed enough to want to hide away under a rock.

At that point I blocked the guy who said those harmful things and anyone closely associated with him.  I felt so naked and lost but ended up deactivating my Facebook page.  Minutes later I noticed that people on my twitter were talking about my posted pictures and saying that I looked like an alien.  Those twitter comments may not have been related to HIV however it hurt me so much that people were saying such mean things to me, a person who minded his own business and really stayed to himself.  At that point I told myself I was over it and decided to completely pull away from social media.

My excuse?  Well it was simply that I was becoming too obsessed with social media and it was absorbing my life.  Yes, that was true but if I was not called out I would still be an active user giving my friends and follower about my day-to-day and minute-by-minute commentary.  Things definitely have changed for the better.  The time off really gave me time to really grow as an individual.  I have become stronger.  I have reached a point in my life where I am more confident with myself and honestly I just don’t care about the negative things people have to say about me.  When I was a kid my parents always used to tell me that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.  So as an adult and as a mature individual I take full responsibility for my actions  and the results of them.  I am proud to say that I am a gay black male who is HIV positive.  Like I always say being HIV positive is a double-edged sword.  The great thing about my condition is that I finally have more appreciation for life, my health, and my friends/family who love me to death.

So due to this overwhelming growth and confidence, this HIV positive guy has finally made the decision to return to social media.  I will return and talk about my experiences and no longer be afraid of what people think and say.  Through my life I have come to realize that words can equate the same feeling of being stabbed in the heart or just feeling plain worthless.  Negative words and put downs seriously suck; however, I have come to realize the importance of being stronger than such verbage.  If I can say anything to my readers it would be to stay strong and to never let hurtful words put you down.  We all go through ups in downs in life however life is seriously an epic journey with the goal of making it to the end alive and with great experiences to pass on to others.

In 2013 I strive to be more goal oriented and to let people know that I am just a regular guy living a quite so positive life.  Social media.. look out here I come…

So this weekend was a very interesting one indeed.  Last week I was invited to attended an event called R.I.S.E ( which stands for Rewriting Inner Scripts Everyday).  Before I attend any events I always have to research what I am getting myself into.  I was invited by a guy who works at NOVAM (Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry) who I met at an AIDS Day event I spoke at for the organization (now the Prevention Collective).  Since being diagnosed with HIV I now want to give back even more to my community.  I think it is crazy on how certain life events can cause people to become almost obsessive on an issue that closely affects them.  I am a face-to-face speaker and through this program I go into schools and other organizations and tell my story on how I got HIV.  I also discuss how my life has forever changed  so it is pretty much like my life story (just mentioning HIV).  Anyway back to the retreat.  I woke up Saturday morning and made my way to the retreat.  There I was super nervous because there are people who were negative influences in my life.  There was a point in time in which I was a very dark and messy person.  That part of my life I blacked out and therefore I was praying to God that I did not run into anyone.  Also, I was fearful I would run into someone who I had a sexual encounter with (let’s be Frank in my past I was having sex) who was not aware of my status for whatever reason.  Walking in I was super anxious but put that aside as I talked to a few people.  Quickly I realized that I would definitely be forced to open up my walls and make new long lasting friendships.  

At the RISE retreat and through my research I learned it was an intervention that was intended for African American men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 18-29.  It was structured to spread knowledge about HIV, build self-confidence, and reduce the feelings of feeling of oppression in the gay African American community.  Our facilitator told us from the jump that we would be pushed well beyond our limits.  It was always explained to us that this is a an intervention for us to truly look inside ourselves for issues that we are dealing with, recognize them, and begin the process of repairing what has been damaged (these things cannot be fixed over the weekend).  The program is intended to help with break the feelings of homophobia and its negativity.  RISE also helps to reclaim our personal power.  

I recommend that if there is any program like this in your area you should definitely look into attending.  I am not going to go into much detail about it however I can say that at the end of the day we discussed issues that our prevalent in the LGBT African American Community and came up with solutions to the problem.  What I can say to everyone is that we need to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and stigma related to both HIV/AIDS and being an even greater minority overall by being Black/Latino and LGBT.  

At the end of the day I feel like it is the responsibility of individuals who are educated to help spread the word and the solutions to break the cycle of oppression and negativity in Black America.  We are the key, the solution and by working together we can help dramatically decrease new HIV infection rates, reduce STDs, and help dissolve the different shades of stigma that are still present today.  

Together we can do it !

-PatrickImage

I am a firm believer of telling my story from the past before I can talk about where my life is Sunsetnow.  If you have not figured out yet by the title of this then let me tell you.  I am Patrick Ingram and yes I am HIV Positive.  The next few posts will be journal entires I did on paper but best describe how things were a year ago.

December 2, 2011

So I guess I am using this as a way to vent and get all my frustrations and anger out. About the same time last year I was in a relationship with my partner, who was cheating on me with many people (I believe more than five) unprotected. I stayed with him up to a year and a half trying to make the relationship work; however, after him disrespecting my parents and me I left. Fast forward to know where my life was going great. I moved into an awesome apartment building, became independent, found true love, and a great set of friends. Dec. 1 (Thursday) I decided to go get tested. Now don’t get me wrong. I have gone before and tested negative, but something in me was telling me to go. I went and took the test and waited what seemed like the longest 26 minutes of my life. I will never forget moving over one seat to look at the nurse who administered the test (having her hands on her head) talk to another staff member with a look of fear on her face. See I was the first and only one who was there for testing on World Aids Day. Kind of bitter-sweet you know… Well at 12:30 I was given the news… Positive… The first thing I thought about was my partner… the second my mother….

It is two days later and I am very stressed, tired, weak, and just depressed. If it wasn’t for my partner I would not be able to make it. After given the news, I called him got him to go to the doctor and returned to work. I was back at work (distracted as hell) and had to keep the business going due to my superiors being out. I held back tears as my employees (the people who look up to me) came to me for advice and for guidance. I felt strong but so weak. My partner came straight to my office to provide some sort of support, which I will never forget. We both struggled to sleep that night. The following day was the toughest because with so much on my mind I had to lead my team, in which I did. The sick twist in it all… well today I had to attend an event where my ex (who I believe infected me) works. It was the toughest thing I had to do. Arriving into the building I was literally shaking. I had to excuse myself three times to pee nervously and to just look at myself in the mirror to try to motivate myself to stay. I made it… In the past few days I have been strong. I have forced myself to eat, stayed positive, and relied on my good friends (one who is positive and can relate) to be here for me. This has been the toughest three days of my life.

Monday I go to the doctor to be seen by a whole team who will get me on my way. I still think to some extent that this is a dream and either the test is wrong and that I will be negative, or that I will wake up from this. Monday the reality will sit in, I even look at myself in the mirror from head to toe. I have researched and read until I was sick of it. I am just ready for this journey. My biggest fear is losing my partner (I know crazy right). He has been so strong these last couple of days. I have noticed that he has back away. He isn’t holding me, kissing me, looking at me, or acting the same. I know this is an uphill battle; however, I just don’t want to lose the person who helped to turn my life around. I feel like I am in a sequel to the movie Precious. I feel like I am not really getting many W’s (wins) right now in life. I really just wanted to right, one so that anyone who is or has gone through this can relate and maybe help me get through this (due to me not ready to tell people) and two to just get it out there because internalizing is making me more tired and sick. If anyone of you believes in prayer… please pray for me, my family, my friends, and my partner as we go through a huge change.

http://www.youtube.com/pozlifeofpatrick

-Patrick