Posts Tagged ‘HIVPositive’

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)

Advertisements
As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.So ThePoz+Life is calling for everyone to join us on November 29th at 1:00 PM EST via Google Hangout, YouTube, or ThePozLife.com for, ThePozLife: Nationwide Call to Action for World AIDS Day! For this to be successful we need you to share with your social networks, organizations and other news platforms.
10431423_583175421813086_8582905741175799971_o

The Long Wait

Posted: November 12, 2014 by tdavisep in The Poz+ Life of Thomas
Tags: , , , ,

This piece choreographed by Thomas Davis is entitled “The Long Wait” and shows the struggle between two people to support each other after HIV has been introduced into their relationship. “I choose to use dance to communicate a lot of my feelings because I get too caught up in my words. I think dance is a powerful tool that can and should be used more. I hope to continue creating works to speak out about HIV and my experiences.” 

10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_oThis December 1st, it will be three years since I learned about my positive HIV status. Since then, the journey hasn’t always been easy. I have experienced successes and challenges—but I am always learning. During my days of being newly diagnosed, dealing with mental illness, contemplating suicide, and, letting others stand in the way of my true happiness, kept me from being comfortable in my own skin. After countless visits with my therapist and having better support from those around me, I decided to start the process of disclosing my status through storytelling online. Despite my own difficulties, I have chosen to be open about my status and by using new media and public speaking, I believe I am helping to fight stigma. By showing people what it looks like to live with HIV, I am using my journey to amplify the voices of others like me. (This process may not work or be appropriate for everyone.)

Disclosure

While many people choose to keep their status private, my positive HIV status is something that I openly share. Telling people that I’m HIV-positive is not the hard part–I can simply send them a text or direct them to my blog Exit Disclaimer or YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. The most difficult part for me is waiting for their response, because that’s the time I start second guessing if I should have revealed myself in the first place. But by speaking out, I have found who Patrick Ingram is. I am proud of him and I am proud of his journey.

The journey is not easy at all because having to deal with rejection and absurd reactions from others come with the territory. I face many uphill battles of having to explain what it is like living with HIV in today’s technological age to sexual partners, friends, colleagues, family members, and other loved ones. Disclosure for me is always tricky because there is never a perfect way of doing it. The easiest way for me is to share my blog or just pose a question like, “I am HIV-positive, is that an issue with you?”

The waiting game for a written, facial, or verbal response is always the most anxious part of the entire process for me. Some have questions and some block me on social media and never speak to me again. What I have learned that if someone is not comfortable being around me because of my HIV status, then they were not mature or worthy enough to really get a chance to know who Patrick is. My newly found confidence, love for myself, and growth as an individual has helped for me to continue to live openly.

The Power of Friendship

Having friends who love and support me has been an important part of my experience of living with HIV. My relationships have renewed my faith in the power of vulnerability; because I know those relationships would not have blossomed if I were not open and honest. Once I shared my fears, it was life changing to be able to place my trust in friends who did not change the way they interacted with me. In fact, having my best friend, Davia, say she loved me and that she would be my biggest cheerleader helped me get my life back on track. It’s wonderful to be able to be who you are. My friends remind me that I am not alone. With them, I can speak freely and feel a sense of normalcy–and I know they are on my side.

A Guiding Hand

Experience has taught me that having a guiding hand is valuable not only for my own journey, but also for addressing the challenges that the Black LGBTQ community faces. I am fortunate to have many inspirational mentors in my life–from a very good friend who helps me to reflect on my experiences, to an elder letting me cry on his shoulder and vent my frustrations. Prior to becoming HIV positive, I had one mentor, Calvin who constantly checked on me and empowered me to be the best person I can be. He was one of the first people to know my positive status on December 1st (World AIDS Day) and continues to keep in touch with me to ensure that I am taking care to ensure I take the necessary steps to keep the virus in check. Calvin and my other awesome mentors in my life are amazing in ensuring the journey is less of a struggle than a hardship.

I have also recognized that the work of organizations such as the Young Black Gay Leadership InitiativeAIDS.gov, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer Youth Initiative to End HIV/ AIDS in America, National Youth HIV&AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer, and individuals in communities have provided a lot of support to gender and sexual minorities of color. For example, the Elite Project in Birmingham, Alabama Exit Disclaimer is a safe drop-in center for the LGBTQ community in an otherwise conservative southern city. This center provides prevention services, entertainment, intellectual conversations, professional and personal development, and–most important–a place to be one’s true self. Centers such as the Elite Project are needed in every community across our nation to provide the same support, friendship, and mentorship that has helped me get through.

Taking the time to reflect on my journey since learning of my status is an important part of my experience living with HIV. Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about myself and about living with HIV. Disclosing my HIV status has been difficult at times, but the support of friends, family, and the community has been very valuable in my journey.

I hope my reflections and story can inspire others to support people they know who are living with HIV and, for those with HIV to remember that they are not alone. For now, my goals are to: continue my daily work to educate others; break down the stigma by speaking out; serve as a resource for people who are newly diagnosed; educate myself more on issues that affect the Black community; and continue to seek self-improvement.

For the original piece on AIDS.gov click here

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/09/three-years-of-knowing-my-positive-hiv-status.html#sthash.e4xr7zsD.dpuf

Providing Social Support to the HIV+ Men’s community since 1988, HOPEDC celebrates 26 years of service with a celebration in Arlington, Virginia on September 20th, 2014.

 

On September 20, 2014, the Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation, Inc. (HOPE DScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.21.40 AMC) will celebrate 26 years of bringing together the HIV+ community in Washington, DC. The celebration will be marked by a social much like the very first gathering that initiated the HOPE DC community.

In keeping with a tradition now more than two decades in the making, the HOPE DC anniversary celebration will be hosted this month by a generous foundation couple in a private home located in the Arlington, Va. Details are available upon request.

The HOPE Foundation’s informal group originated in 1988, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, when a small group of HIV+ Men met at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital during clinical trials of life-saving treatments. They decided to bind together for mutual moral support away from the hospital and began hosting private social events throughout the district. The clinical trial is long since history, but the fellowship that they started is still going strong.

In 1996, the informal group became a non-profit 501C3 organization called The HOPE Foundation. Over the years, the group has grown to over 1400 individuals. The gatherings are now regular events called “The Monthly Social” where HIV+, and poz-friendly, gay/bi/trans/questioning men can meet and provide support for each other in the greater Washington/Baltimore area.

The group remains active today, as the need for moral and peer support for HIV+ attendees has not changed. Over the years, services and support offered by HOPE DC have proven to be essential for the health and well-being of each Social attendee. The focus of the group is primarily directed to single gay men with HIV in the Washington, DC area, but all are welcome.

“We celebrate the dramatic medical breakthroughs that have turned HIV into a manageable condition, but we are deeply aware of the Social challenges of living well and responsibly with HIV,” explained Jim Garza, Vice-President of the HOPE Foundation. “That is why, after more than 26 years, we are still here and will continue to be here as long there is a need.”

About HOPE DC 
HOPE DC is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that serves the HIV+ Community in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Services provided include the Monthly Social which offers a stress-free gathering that fosters mutual support, as well as and website to share articles, information, links and resources about living with HIV, and also occasional public seminars or lectures. we also have monthly Brunches, Bowling nights, and Day Trips. The HOPE DC philosophy is that by providing such services, they help HIV+ gay men foster a greater self-esteem and sense of community and that this in turn fosters the responsibility and behavior that helps diminish the spread of HIV.

The Group is funded by Generous Donations from Brother Help Thyself and Whitman Walker Health and has meetings and informal speaker series at the DC Center.

To learn more about HOPE DC visit http://www.hopedc.org or Like us on Facebook.

For more information about the event please visit http://www.hopedc.org.

 

Mansion_Postcard_(1)

 

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.    

 

10511617_684436854967195_2676629577803456164_o 10542712_684435651633982_6066732792277895089_o 10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_o

For more information on Nova Salud click here.  

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.

Image

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.

Image

           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

Where I am today

Posted: December 14, 2012 by thepozlife in The Poz+ Life of Patrick
Tags: , , ,

ImageSo now that I have made it through my fist year with HIV I have both negative and positive things about the experience.  I know for a fact that I evolved into a much stronger person.  Right from my initial diagnosis I was already accepting the fact that my life would be changed forever.  To be honest I was being apathetic for so long that I could no longer ignore nor turn my back to the truth.

I have learned so much since being diagnosed.  The greatest thing that I have learned is who my true friends are.  I refer to them as my roots because no matter what they are there supporting me.  When I first found out I was HIV positive I began telling people who I though were my friend.  Well they ended up spreading my business and it even reached social media.  I was  horrified when I noticed one of my facebook friends posting a picture of them getting blood work done and then seeing results stating that they were HIV Negative and saying that there were people who were diseased and positive among him and that they were not welcome.  That is when I felt as if I could  not trust anyone, so I deactivated my facebook account and left twitter.  I was so scared to go back and face the fact that people were talking about me; however, my roots over time helped me to gain my confidence and become a stronger person.  So throughout this year I developed the mentality of saying goodbye to people who were not #teampatrick.  In my mind if you are someone who I can’t trust then I keep you at arms length (a distance).

Another thing I learned was how fragile life is.  Throughout my life I never broke a bone or rarely was sick.  I was pretty much brought down to my knees by the lunch infection that kept me from talking a simple sentence.  I could not even walk a few feet without being out of breath.  This experience has showed me that my health is more valuable than any materialistic thing.  Now I am super focused on what I put into my body and I try to stay super healthy inside and out (especially inside since my body as been thrown out of its usual functions to this virus).  I have to be particular careful about what I put into my body because the medications filter through my liver and kidneys (so I have to keep them in tiptop shape).  I have to lay off of the fatty foods because my fat levels can easily increase now.  It is especially hard for me to work out due to the fact that I was truly never a fan of it (unless it was doing a sport or something).  So on top of the company that I keep I have to be careful of the food my health both inside and out.

This process has been what I call a metamorphosis.  Prior to being diagnosed I really did not want to be involved with my family much, nor did I have time for friends.  That has all changed because now I see or speak to my family daily and I stop anything I am doing to be there with my true friends.  The process continues to take place.  I am not perfect but I trying to keep my life going.  At this point that is all I can do.