Posts Tagged ‘The Poz+ Life’

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




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

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

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

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

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

“I deal with stigma by speaking out about my experiences and being open to any questions people have about HIV even if it is no one else’s business. If a question or statement comes out offensive, I breathe first and try to hear where they are coming from before I respond. Stigma will only die off when we start listening and understanding exactly what it is that people are scared of.”

Check out the original piece here.


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 or Like us on Facebook.

For more information about the event please visit


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.42.20 PMWe are so excited that Patrick Ingram was listed as one of the 20 amazing HIV-Positive Gay men of 2014.  Patrick continues to do great work in the community to advocate, educate, and empower young people. He definitely works tirelessly to ensure that the LGBTQ community of color is represented at any table he is sitting at.  Congratulations Patrick on your great year so far.  The Poz+ Life is going in the right direction and we cannot wait to show you more of what we have in the works. Stay Tuned!

Below is pulled from HIV Plus Magazine's article on Patrick Ingram.  Check here for the 
digital edition.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.41.39 PMAfter he attended the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative’s 2014 Policy and Advocacy Summit earlier this year, blogger Patrick Ingram says he realized just how much pressure there is to act as if living with HIV is easy.

“The reality is, it is not yellow brick roads and rainbows,” he says. “Dating, making new friends, and even making new professional relationships are tough because of the fact that I am openly HIV-positive and gay. I do think, though, that I am finally free and at ease with my sexuality and HIV status and am hardly affected by those who do not want to deal with me because of their inability to address the HIV-related stigma within them.”

That straightforwardness has made the 25-year-old Ingram, who by day works as a health counselor for the Virginia Department of Health in Alexandria, a voice to be listened to. His popular blog on (, which he crafts with two other young black men) began in 2012 so he could “vent and share my journey of coming to terms with my HIV diagnosis. While doing this I also offered support and a listening ear to others.”

While it’s garnered the young man a legion of fans — especially young men of color so used to being underheard in the HIV discussion — he says he never sees himself as a role model. “Because I am not perfect but just simply human,” he says. “I never want to be placed in a situation where others look up to me; however, I want people to look at how I took my life changing moment and become empowered by it to take charge of their lives and any barrier they may be facing.”

He spends plenty of time on his blog educating people on treatment as prevention, what it means to be undetectable, PrEP, and why resiliency and mental strength are cornerstones of good health.

As more young people like himself speak openly about what it really is like living or being with someone with HIV, people may stop looking at the virus as “something that is not from a person who is dirty, irresponsible, or even dangerous,” he says. “HIV affects us all, regardless of things like socioeconomic status, significant others, family, friends, and education on the virus.”

Still, Ingram admits that one of his biggest concerns is the need for HIV-positive gay men to feel empowered and worthy. He meets plenty of men who “do not think they are good enough and therefore have to settle. In other situations they feel defeated and therefore do not feel like fighting to ensure they can get their medications, see their providers, have a second opinion, disclose their status to a sexual partner, and even stand up and address incorrect facts or lack of education among their peers. As HIV-postive individuals as a whole, we must know that our voice matters and that we are worth it.”

For the article click here
Don’t forget to check out more about our bloggers here




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


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For more information on Nova Salud click here.  



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!


June 27th is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) and the theme for this year is “Take the Test. Take Control”. In recognition of this observance day, our Black Voices series bloggers answer the question why NHTD is important to them and what is one thing people (or organizations) can do to promote NHTD. Here is what they said:

Why is National HIV Testing Day important to you?

“This month marks my 7th year of living with HIV. I found out I was HIV positive on June 7, 2007 after receiving a positive diagnosis during an attempt to enlist into the United States Army. After I found out I was devastated, but also determined to survive and THRIVE. In order to do this, I knew I needed to manage my HIV and take control of my health. Taking this HIV test was the first step to making sure I remained healthy. Seven years later, I am still healthy with my HIV undetectable.” –Venton

“National HIV Testing Day is important to me because it’s a day that reaffirms the value of routine testing. It reopens the conversation about sexual health and risk to people in communities where either the conversation has fallen off or never been had. National HIV Testing Day becomes a marker, in the year, for many who might not otherwise engage in this type of dialogue.” – Ken

“National HIV Testing Day is important to me because it is an opportunity to know your status. With taking the test, and whatever the test results, you can take the necessary steps to educate yourself on HIV. If you are negative you can take the steps to remain negative (i.e. harm-reduction techniques and PrEP), and if you are positive you can get linked to care (with the goal of viral suppression). The day is also a perfect day to educate others on HIV and really let the community know that this is still an issue we are dealing with.” –Patrick

“NHTD is important because it provides an opportunity to put a face and voice on what HIV looks and sounds like. It’s an opportunity to continue an important conversation about our individual and collective health and wellness and the important work of eradicating stigma.” –Meico

“This day is a national coordinated effort to encourage Americans to get tested for HIV. It gives me a chance to speak with my friends and loved ones about HIV. Additionally, it allows me to support AIDS service organizations in promoting the day and amplifying their messages online.”-Anthony

What is one thing people (or organizations) can do to promote National HIV Testing Day?

“We’re all impacted (directly or indirectly) by HIV. You can help promote NHTD by sharing your story. As appropriate, send a text to your best friend. Call your mom. Chat-up one of your co-workers. Wondering how to start the conversation? Check out these great conversation starters from the CDC.” -Meico

“People and organizations can use social media and their networks to have a conversation about HIV. Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they know their HIV status and help them find a place they can get tested (using the website or application of course).” -Patrick

“Social media has been a great tool to help spread the word about the importance of National HIV Testing Day. So many people still do not know their status and it is important for people to be aware and informed about the steps they need to take in order to stay negative or, if positive, to get into care.” -Venton

“Participate. Participate. Participate. National HIV Testing Day for me is about the grassroots process of getting the education out to those who need it. You can also set the example by taking a test and sharing your experience with family members, the faith community and colleagues. It’s really about asking yourself: ‘how can I keep the conversation going?’ ” -Ken

What’s one thing you’re doing to promote National HIV Testing Day?

– See more at:


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

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

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

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

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

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





Full Film Stay Positive | 8 min | 2013
A teen comes face to face with his HIV status when pressured into a blood drive by his grandmother and runs the risk of isolating himself and missing out on life.
Excerpt from Director’s Statement
“The personal tone in Stay Positive was birthed from my experiences testing for HIV. I had always been afraid of HIV, because I was taught to be afraid. I was taught to believe that HIV/AIDS is bad, a punishment for being gay, and a death sentence. In many ways, creating this film has allowed me to come face to face with my own fears and ignorance about HIV/AIDS and ask the questions I was too afraid to ask.”

Special Thanks Thanks:
In filming, we were very thankful for Howard Brown Health Center and Broadway United Methodist Church for allowing us location usage and other resources.