Posts Tagged ‘living with aids’

“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.



catharsis dec. 14




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



So in life we as humans are constantly growing and evolving. It’s an attempt to better us and strive to achieve the unthinkable. So many times I have caught myself being ok with the status quo and being surrounded by those individuals who didn’t have my back or best interests. Being diagnosed with HIV in 2011 really forced me to go through a sort of metamorphosis and reassess my life.

Recently many folks have been asking, “Did you go and decide to end” The truth is that I decided to do some serious soul searching and adult decision-making. Believe it or not I used to fly before for a regional airline; however, I was sexually assaulted on an overnight and that scarred me so much flying and overnighting in hotel rooms were never the same. That night in Chicago I learned to stop being so naïve and trusting of others. Since then I had gone to working within the for profit sector before transitioning to non-profits and finally a state health department. Since being diagnosed with HIV I have been seeing a mental health professional, discovering who I was, pushing myself to go outside of my perceived limits, and then going back to accomplish my dreams. While working in the HIV field I honestly became disgusted and annoyed. I felt as if I was in a remake of the movie Mean Girls and was among folks who were in the market of making themselves “famous and notarized,” by their work rather than letting the work speak for itself. I found myself surrounding by cliques of academics, community mobilizers, social media gurus, and socialites and began to lose my identity and purpose. That was not Patrick. I was far from my roots of just posting long ass YouTube videos where I’d vent and just aimlessly talk. More importantly I lost focus and connection on the actual experience of living with and moving through life with HIV. I was now in a place where I was talking at people rather than sharing my experiences. Am I bitter how individuals in the field treated me? Yes, however I have had so many great experiences with a handful of folks who have given me so much more than a clique can; therefore, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones.IMG_6644

It’s very frustrating to work among people who had no passion or drive to really touch people’s lives. More importantly among people who use HIV and people living with it as a tool to gain personal profits and increased social status.   I had a coming to Jesus moment where I had to really think about my future. Did I really want to wake up one day 60 years old and had been totally committed to ending the epidemic of HIV that I was not able to pursue my dreams, work within my dream job and primarily being surrounding by people who were in the same situation. Or did I want to break back into a dream job that I loved doing where I could utilize all of my talents. At that point I was close to a decision to go back to being a flight attendant.

The final straw that broke my back was being at a conference in Atlanta earlier this year where someone tried to tell me to look and carry myself a certain way when around people of power and influence. I was very confused at to why I would be invited to become part of an organization but then forced to change to be the ultra conservative, suit wearing, name throwing, and inability to have humility that they had. It wasn’t my thing and seeing how particular folks can be really changed my perspective on the colleagues in the field I worked with.

Since leaving I have not heard from many folks in the HIV and Public Health field and if I have heard from them it is honestly for something they want. I am not writing that to complain but to let you know that in life you come across people throughout your individual journey to greatness and you may not take them to you. It is ok for them to come and go. This is simply apart of the human experience. It is so important to focus on your dreams and the necessary people you either have to knock over or get through to get to the finish line. The other important thing is to make sure that you keep those valuable friends and allies on your side. These folks will support you when you are up or down in the dumps.

Being a flight attendant for one of the greatest airlines in the world is a blessing. The experience of living with HIV within a Fortune 500 company is different but I am ready for the challenge and blessed that I am able to share every moment I can with you. Remember living and with HIV is a unique situation. We have many ups and downs the others will never know about. I just keep my faith and positivity that things will work out. This ideology has not failed me yet.IMG_6617

“Im going back, back, back to my roots

Where my love can be found and my heart rings true

Im going back, back, back to my roots

To the time and the place, coming back to you.” – Rupaul 


Like it or not but HIV related stigma can be seen everywhere. From the entertainment industry all the way to our phones. Mobile networking apps or as I like to call them “FCK or Hookup apps,” carry much of the stigma. Many of these companies like Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, and Adam4Adam do provide ways for AIDS Service Organizations/Community-based organizations to advertise services, and is a great opportunity to outreach to our community. Many of these applications allow for you to share your status, and even note your last testing date if you are positive; however, we are still turned down, blocked, or face ridiculous comments when we disclose our status to people or reach out to them as a openly positive person.  So here goes a list of the SHIT IGNORANT GUYS SAY TO POZ GUYS Online:    


“Are you clean/DDF?IMG_6869

Let’s face it before you can even get into saying what you are into or what your favored dick size is you are faced with either reading this in a profile or after a light exchange of messages. What tickles us is the fact that folks common sense would either be confused by what someone means by clean or not disclose one’s STD and HIV status in order to bust a nut or avoid being discriminated against. Let’s not mention the fact that many are positive yet just do not know it.  How about saying something like “I frequently test and currently negative for all STDs including HIV.  How about you?”  We are all clean.  Let’s stop using cleanliness to describe status and keep it in the hygiene category.


“Sooo… can you still fuck?IMG_7183

I take it that the  lack of comprehensive sex education and just lack of contact with positive guys attributes to this. It is really sad that guys think that an HIV positive diagnosis means that we have to give up our sexual pleasure. Yes, guys who are positive can have sex and lots of it. Many use the term “undetectable to share that they are virally suppressed and on top of the virus.” Studies have shown that an undetectable viral load means a significant decrease of being infected with HIV if exposed.


“Why are you still having sex and/or bare backing if you are positive?”  

IMG_7108 The answer is simply because I can. Just because someone is HIV positive doesn’t mean they have to confine themselves to a life of celibacy nor only have sex with positive guys. It’s all about sex positivity. If both parties are cool with it then so be it.





“But you’re such a good guy.”

 I’m still a good guy. Being HIV positive doesn’t change who I am as a person.  








“I prefer my guys clean or DDF.”

IMG_4643Yet if no one even mentioned HIV you wouldn’t have brought it up or asked when the last time I tested (or cared if it was more than a year). So many put clean or DDF in their profile yet don’t understand you are basically saying anyone who is not STI or HIV free is dirty. Plenty of times you wouldn’t even be able to know a person’s actual status based of off window periods.  We need to learn to have healthy conversations surrounding current STI and HIV status.




How did you get it?

IMG_0683 HIV isn’t something you just pick up off the sale rack at TJ MAXX. Everyone’s experience with the virus is different. More importantly, it’s probably not your business. There are some people who are willing to talk about their own story, but that doesn’t mean you should assume it’s okay to ask other poz people the same question. It could be a difficult conversation for some people to have based off of past negative or traumatic experiences . Don’t be that person who reopens old and unhealed wounds.



“Who gave it to you?”tumblr_n8qcsl5s0w1tdjuqvo1_500

Who gave you Herpes? Oops was that too much? I mean it’s like asking someone what they went to jail for. Let the person tell you that information when they feel comfortable around you. Again there is such a thing as too much information.







“Well you don’t look like you have it?”IMG_8295

What does someone who has HIV look like? Remember we are now in 2015 not the 80s. Due to the available and much needed medications, research, medical services, behavioral health services, prevention options, and so many other programs we have the necessary things to stay healthy. Folks living with HIV keep their viral loads down, their CD4 counts/percentages up, and overall holistic health flourishing. Some people don’t look like total a-holes but hey looks can be deceiving, am I right? Listen, people with HIV look like you or me or him or her or them. HIV doesn’t look any specific way. Did you think I’d be wasting away? That we’d be frail and sickly little things? On the contrary, there are lots of hot guys out there living with HIV! (See and this article for perfect examples.)



“Isn’t it like you just take a pill and everything is good?”

IMG_0743If only that was the case. Folks who are positive deal with so much stuff that goes beyond just taking a pill. Remember the fact that stigma creates barriers to staying adherent to medication and add a host of other mental and social issues. I hear horror stories of how people hid their meds in over-the-counter bottles, take their meds in secret, or even suffer from behavioral health issues. I have even been open about my own chronic depression and PTSD, which can cause huge barriers socially and to medication adherence. It takes those who truly understand the nature and severity of what people living with HIV are going through to understand that it isn’t just like a antiretroviral HIV pill(s) can fix things. So much time is spent with a mental health professional and a medical provider always checking to makes sure things are well.


“Do you think I need to be tested?” IMG_9925 Only you can answer that question. I would say if you haven’t tested in 6-12 months and have been potentially exposed to HIV then yes you should. In addition, if your local health department has contacted you or Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) and they confirm you may have been exposed then testing would be advantageous.


“I was tested for HIV last year?”

IMG_6565 This is a tricky one. When I provide HIV counseling to many people who happen to be young and old alike I have to remind them of the window period, the need to frequently test, and the fact that based off of things like the amount of sex and number of partners may create the benefit of screening multiple times within a year (3-6 months). I tend to recommend HIV and STI testing every 3-6 months for folks who are highly sexually active

“Will you die?” IMG_7275

Chile boo. I am not going anywhere. As long as I take my meds as prescribed, go to my doctors visit, and live an overall holistic healthy lifestyle I will be just as old if not older than you. Yes! And so will you! I’m assuming most guys mean to ask; will you die due to HIV related causes? C’mon guys. Great strides have been made in enhancing treat and the lives of those living with the virus, and discovering out how to control it in order to live a full life. As long as a poz person stays in care and/or sticks to their medications then there’s hardly a reason that their lifespan is decreased BECAUSE of HIV.


“But you’re such a good person.” annoyed-2 Sooooo everyone else that has HIV are terrible people? No my friend HIV doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care which walk of life you come from. You could be the biggest sinner around or a total saint!  You could have a purse so heavy making Oprah dollars or dirt poor.  Keep your pre-conceived judgments to yourself.




“How did you get it?”annoyedgif

The same ways HIV is transmitted. Did you want some elaborate story? Well that depends on how comfortable the poz guy you’re talking to is up to sharing.





“Who gave it to you?” tumblr_m9ckn3wgDj1qfc8cw Again this is probably not your business and probably not the most comfortable conversation to have. Also, does it matter? If you’re worried about knowing who has “it,” and who doesn’t so you can know whom to avoid, then you probably should be taking other precautions. Like, I don’t know, talking about the matter with your intimate partners, condom use, and even PrEP?


“I prefer my guys clean.” not-mr-clean Hey good for you! Some like ’em clean, some like ’em smelly! STOP equating being negative to being clean! If negative is too difficult of a word to type out, use “neg,” maybe? It’s also only one syllable!







“I’m so sorry for you.”

tumblr_nlahy4GIv81rl3tufo4_r1_400 And I am so sorry that you are ignorant as hell. No one asked for apologies. Why? Who died? Is my dog okay? Dude, where’s my car? I kindly reject your invite to the pity party. Instead of feeling sorry or sad for me, you could try to support the HIV community by broadening your horizons and giving back. Educate yourself and start the conversation with your friends. I’m only sorry that people still cringe at the acronyms HIV and AIDS.






“Why does it always have to be the cute guys?” small-violin

Why does it have to be anyone at all? Why do folks think that HIV only goes after a certain look? Although certain populations are impacted greater than others anyone can be HIV-positive. It does not matter how you look, your socioeconomic status, the amount of followers or likes you have, or even if you identify as a top or bottom. Trust there are some positive tops out there.




Patrick Ingram and Adrian Castellanos are two awesome gay men of color living with HIV sharing their experiences.  Please share, spread the word, and continue to keep in touch with  For media inquiries please contact






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! 


cms_img_triumeq_packagingLondon, UK, 22 August, 2014 – ViiV Healthcare announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Triumeq® (abacavir 600mg, dolutegravir 50mg and lamivudine 300mg) tablets for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.1 Triumeq is ViiV Healthcare’s first dolutegravir-based fixed-dose combination, offering many people living with HIV the option of a single-pill regimen  that combines the integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) dolutegravir, with the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) abacavir and lamivudine.

Triumeq alone is not recommended for use in patients with current or past history of resistance to any components of Triumeq. Triumeq alone is not recommended in patients with resistance-associated integrase substitutions or clinically suspected INSTI resistance because the dose of dolutegravir in Triumeq is insufficient in these populations. Before initiating treatment with abacavir-containing products, screening for the presence of a genetic marker, the HLA-B*5701 allele, should be performed in any HIV-infected patient, irrespective of racial origin. Products containing abacavir should not be used in patients known to carry the HLA-B*5701 allele.1

Dr Dominique Limet, Chief Executive Officer, ViiV Healthcare, said: “Today’s approval of Triumeq offers many people living with HIV in the US the first single-pill regimen containing dolutegravir. ViiV Healthcare is committed to delivering advances in care and new treatment options to physicians and people living with HIV. We are proud to announce this important milestone, marking the second new treatment to be approved in the US from our pipeline of medicines.”

This FDA approval is based primarily upon data from two clinical trials:

  • the Phase III study (SINGLE) of treatment-naïve adults, conducted with dolutegravir and abacavir/lamivudine as separate pills2,3
  • a bioequivalence study of the fixed-dose combination of abacavir, dolutegravir and lamivudine when taken as a single pill compared to the administration of dolutegravir and abacavir/lamivudine as separate pills.4

In the SINGLE study, a non-inferiority trial with a pre-specified superiority analysis, more patients were undetectable (HIV-1 RNA <50 copies/mL) in the dolutegravir and abacavir/lamivudine arm (the separate components of Triumeq) than in the Atripla®†(efavirenz, emtricitabine and tenofovir) arm, the most commonly used single-pill regimen. The difference was statistically significant and met the pre-specified test for superiority. The difference was driven by a higher rate of discontinuation due to adverse events in the Atripla arm.2, 3

  • At 96 weeks, 80% of participants on the dolutegravir-based regimen were virologically suppressed compared to 72% of participants on Atripla. Grade 2-4 treatment emergent adverse reactions occurring in 2% or more participants taking the dolutegavir-based regimen were insomnia (3%), headache (2%) and fatigue (2%).3

About HIV

HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV, so once someone has HIV they have it for life.5-7

HIV infects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells or T-cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body cannot fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which is the final stage of HIV infection. There is no cure for HIV, but with early diagnosis and effective treatment most people with HIV will not go on to develop AIDS.5-7

An estimated 1.1 million people in the US are living with HIV.However, only 33 percent are taking the medication they need.8

About Triumeq

Triumeq is a fixed-dose combination containing the INSTI dolutegravir and the NRTIs abacavir and lamivudine. 

Two essential steps in the HIV life cycle are replication – when the virus turns its RNA copy into DNA – and integration – the moment when viral DNA becomes part of the host cell’s DNA. These processes require two enzymes called reverse transcriptase and integrase. NRTIs and integrase inhibitors interfere with the action of the two enzymes to prevent the virus from replicating and further infecting cells. 

Dolutegravir was approved in the US in August 2013 and in Europe in January 2014 under the brand name Tivicay®. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) granted a positive opinion on the Marketing Authorisation Application (MAA) for Triumeq on 26 June 2014. Regulatory applications are also being evaluated in other markets worldwide, including Australia, Brazil and Canada.

Tivicay and Triumeq are registered trademarks of the ViiV Healthcare group of companies.


About ViiV Healthcare

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit


This year was the first year that I attended the ADAP Advocacy Association’s (aaa+) annual conference. I went there knowing that some states have AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) that are under some questionable measures and are causing many who need meds to be put on waiting lists and even some who have been experiencing trouble accessing care. My purpose in attending was to learn ways in which to support as an ally and advocate for family members, friends, and those that I work with in regards to ADAPs and the possible changes to come with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion. Little did I know that attending this conference would touch me way beyond the spectrum of my current position as linkage to care coordinator, and allow me to connect with true champions in the fight against AIDS and become more empowered than ever before.

Day 1: Right from the start of the first plenary session I was introduced to Bob Bowers, One Tough Pirate, AIDS activist, educator and survivor. Living in the small city that I am from, I had never met such a warrior, so full of ambition, motivation, and courage to stand up speak on his combat for justice for himself and those living with HIV/AIDS. He absolutely blew me away. He was so real and so blunt that I almost wasn’t ready, but I knew that if he could get on stage and be so passionate about this fight, that I had to become more than just a health department worker; I had to become a rebel against those opposed to true nurturance, the true belief that diversity of any kind is indispensible to a truly healthy society.  

aaa aaa1 

 But that wasn’t all! The rest of the day consisted of breakout sessions on the topics of Africa’s use of technology to provide continuity of care – the use of an electronic health record system where clients utilized a simple health card to take to appointments that kept track of all their dates of visits, lab results, etc.; and HIV medication self-management – how individuals in one community were able to create their own intrinsic/holistic ideals of empowerment to deal with their diagnosis and manage care, all from many different walks of life.   The day ended with the wonderful launching of the ADAP directory…


The fabulous invention of aaa+, a resource page full of word lists and links that handily locate AIDS Drugs Assistance Program information for all US states and territories! This is a way for those newly diagnosed or currently living with HIV/AIDS, those who are moving, plan on moving to another state, or just need to locate info within their own state, to review all the ADAP information and find ways of locating healthcare coverage and other financial sources; to improve the quality and accessibility of HIV/AIDS healthcare and support service organizations; and provide grant information. The best part is that the creators of the site are connected to the states info in a way that they are able to keep the information listed online as up to date as possible. So…as soon as something changes, their notified and updates are made!! How awesome is that?!?!? This is a way to keep people connected and even aware of changes that may need to be made or added in their areas. That’s true advocacy at work and making sure that we’re starting to push toward creating consistency across the US and its territories!

Day 2: Lots of information provided this day! A rep from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), “the voice of the states”, provided and excellent presentation on AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. As of February of 2014, only one state has a waiting list consisting of 35 people and other states that had previous lists are now on cost containment measures. Meaning they have put a plan in place to attempt to avoid tight budgets and not being able to provide everyone with the care and medication that they need.

More good news concerning this program is that as of 2013, the ADAP budget (consisting of Federal, state, and rebate dollars), exceeded a budget of 2 billion dollars for the first time! This means funding for the program is steadily increasing to where care and meds can be provided to those who need it within the ADAP income eligibility range of the federal poverty level.  We as advocates just need to be sure that within our own states, the money is actually reaching the people!

The day continued on with powerful breakouts from organizations such as Positive Champions Speakers Bureau (, a group of HIV positive people who share their first hand experiences and the effects that HIV has on communities. They work to educate their community on the issues of living with HIV & AIDS and work to fight against stigma. This breakout allowed the speakers themselves to not only share, but also engaged the participants to share and connect as well.

I could go on and on but because there was so much information shared that I believe was helpful to both PLWHA and allies….but I don’t want to take up too much of your time lol. So I’m listing some websites that I believe are truly beneficial and that you should definitely checkout: – enables youth to make positive life choices and parents and educators to support them as they navigate the journey to become happy, confident adults (great resource) – a national non-profit organization maintained website of free information on programs that help people who can’t afford medications and healthcare costs – offers assistance and hope to people with chronic or life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/AIDS in which costs is the reason for limited access to advanced medical treatments – founded in 1973 as the nation’s first legal organization dedicated to achieving full equality for lesbian and gay people

Later that night, I met this fabulous guy…


a fighter, an advocate, a trailblazer, a survivor…the true definition to me, of a believer. He is a believer of life, a believer of living, and believer of the fight being bigger than just himself. I was honored to have sat with him at the 4th Annual ADAP Leadership Awards dinner as he accepted the award for Social Media Campaign of the Year for himself and his co-creators of the The Poz Life. P.S. – you guys are doing amazing things!

Day 3: The conference ended with a town hall meeting in which all attendees met to discuss issues and set plans to go home with to continue working, begin new initiatives, and move forward in empowering others to join in this movement towards social/civil justice and equal rights.  


So…as I left DC and headed back to my little old city, I thought about how if associations such as aaa+ remain in the fight to ensure care and funding is available, accessible, and awarded to those in need, programs such as ADAP have no choice but to remain. But we also have to become part of the battle and we can’t be afraid to speak up. If we remain in the background, watching as others struggle for our rights and necessities, then what are we doing? Why aren’t we helping? Are we really a part of the fight? Are we really standing up for what we believe in? If not, I think we have to then start asking, what do we believe in? What is our purpose? I think if we follow the quote made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and read by the keynote speaker of the awards dinner, John D. Kemp, we can only go up from here…

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

By moving forward, we work towards growing our communities from repulsion, to tolerance, to acceptance, to support, to admiration, to appreciation, to true nurturance for all – believing that diversity is indispensible to a truly healthy society. And in order for our society to truly be healthy, we have to all have all be treated as equal and have consistency in access to medical care, medicine and other resources that keep us living in this fight TOGETHER!

On another note…I LOVE DC AT NITE!!!


Rimage-2yane Hill, from Akron, Ohio is a  University of Cincinnati graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Health Education and Promotion with a Community Health focus. Currently she is working towards her Masters of Public Health at the University of Akron while working at Summit County Public Health with the HIV/STD Education and Prevention Program.  Ryane‘s dedication is working to educate those in underserved populations and communities on risk behaviors, prevention, treatment, and ways to access care while empowering them to self advocate for their health and future.  

Last month, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy hosted the much-anticipated meeting on HIV in the Southern United States. Federal stakeholders, policy makers, national and regional venton-e1396560969818advocates were in attendance to outline the current state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South and identify solutions for reducing the impact of HIV in this region of the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the South has the highest number of people who are becoming infected and the majority of the people who are living with HIV in the South are people of color. During this important meeting, I had the opportunity to share my perspective as a person from the South living with HIV and also share recommendations for addressing the existing challenges around eradicating HIV in the South.

I am originally from Dallas, Texas. I grew up with a passion for health care as most of my family were involved in various aspects of health-care service and delivery. After obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Community Health from Texas A&M University in 2006, I moved back to my hometown to start my career in public health. I then completed my Master of Science in Healthcare Administration. My primary area of interest was health disparities and understanding its impact within communities of color. This led me towards an interest in HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate impact on Black gay men and men of other races who have sex with men (MSM). Early on in my career, I realized the stigma and fear that was associated around addressing the needs of this population.

During my time in Dallas, I was involved with a number of local and state-level HIV groups, including the Texas HIV/STD Community Planning Group. One of my first jobs in HIV prevention was working with United Black Ellument Exit Disclaimer. This project, funded by the University of California’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, aimed to adapt the Mpowerment HIV prevention Exit Disclaimer intervention for young, Black, gay and bi-sexual men, between the ages of 18-29. Throughout my work, a major challenge I faced while living in the South was around getting health systems to understand the unique social and structural challenges that act as barriers to effective HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts within populations of Black gay men and other MSM. These include, but are not limited to: racism, homophobia, lack of culturally competent service delivery and a lack of Black gay men in leadership positions throughout the community, HIV/AIDS organizations and government.

This part of the country is directly in the cross-hairs of challenges that persistently contribute to increased HIV infection rates and low rates of viral suppression. I believe in order to get the HIV/AIDS epidemic under control in the United States and ultimately, to move to an AIDS-free generation, we must continue our intentional focus on the issues facing Black MSM.

How are you focusing your efforts on those issue facing Black MSM? People in the South?

– See more at:





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.  



I am honestly excited about this project and want to see it succeed. Currently, there are no programs that discuss life living with HIV from a protagonist and their point of view.  This is something that we so desperately need to educate more individuals, break down stigma, but most importantly have something that us individuals living with HIV can related to.   Please check out for more information on the project and the kickstarter campaign!


fc85e3031fe45518fddd2a7b49360d42_large Real HIV? Nowhere on T.V.! This series will explore many of the issues that affect HIV-positive people as they live on, and stay positive. Unsure/Positive is a Dramedy. What exactly is a Dramedy, you ask? Also known as tragicomedy, comedic drama, seriocomedy, or Unsure/Positive (the Series). Humor and Drama combined! A hybrid! The primary goal of the series is to entertain. Fair warning: we may entertain you *while* raising awareness about life with HIV. In an age of mobile devices, hookup culture, antiretroviral treatments, and the ongoing stigma that resonates with our own societal fears, Unsure/Positive offers a healthy dose of reality, honesty, and humor. You haven’t seen anything like this (because we’re still busy making it happen!) We have a fantastic cast, a baller crew, and we’re itching to get started– so much so that we already shot the first ten pages of our script on July 12th and 13th, 2014— well before securing our Kickstarter funding. The plan? To show you what you’re backing. Our sneak preview can be viewed right here: HIV is no longer a death sentence. That’s (somewhat) common knowledge… so much so that the other complications of living with the disease often get overlooked. The social stigma of an HIV-positive diagnosis is, on its own, a serious ongoing issue for “poz” persons. Unsure/Positive will explore this, and also the variety of situations– stark and mundane– that come up when human beings try to grapple with this complicated disease. With Your Help They Can:

  • Pay our professional director of photography, Ben Proulx (this is the guy in charge of the camera!)
  • Feed our cast and crew for (at least) 8 days (nom-nom!)
  • Pay our awesome, hardworking crewpeoples
  • Cover the cost of liability insurance
  • Secure a U-Haul for equipment pick-up and return
  • Buy cases of water for our set (You don’t know muggy till you’ve been in Boston in August!)
  • Buy a hard-drive on which to save all our footage
  • Buy a second hard-drive. (Just in case!)
  • Work with a professional sound mixer during post production
  • Work with a professional colorist during post production
  • And more!

Thanks in advance for supporting our project. We look forward to bringing you this brand new series very soon!

Unsure/Positive faces the challenge of combating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS– many people are reluctant to fund the project only because of the negativity associated with these acronyms. One possible risk is that this stigma will undermine our efforts to reach a wide audience. We feel this is an ongoing challenge– but you can bet we’re here to fight the good fight. While stylistically our project is a “single camera” show, much of Unsure/Positive will be shot with two cameras. This means extra crew and personnel to manage the production. Translation: it’s not cheap! (But the good stuff rarely is.) We are very much a grassroots production and support from you, our community, will help make this project a success. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you for your continued support!