It was 1985; I had just taken the test for the HIV virus. I was not in a place to understand the implications of the test. I was in a drug treatment facility, and it was difficult to even imagine that I needed to deal with something besides recovering from his drug addiction.
I took the test, and a few days later they called me back in and said the test was not conclusive and required another one. After the second test I discovered I was HIV positive. I told no one. Before long he was leaving the treatment facility and heading out to finish out my life in private isolation.
I moved to my parent’s home for a while, and went to Key West. I was gay and figured where better to be than where homosexuality and HIV were widely accepted. I went there with little money and lived off of mustard sandwiches. Finally, I got a job at a restaurant. When I started making good money, I ended up back on cocaine and heroin and ended up homeless.
I was fired from the restaurant because of performance issues and absenteeism. With no money coming in, and my drug addiction escalating, I ended up living in my car. After a short while the car was towed, and I ended up with no place to stay what so ever except tha park bench or under a tree on the beach.
After about 3 months, I became very sick and ended up in the hospital with PCP pneumonia. I was in the hospital for about 4 weeks, and very near death. That’s when I met someone that had ventured down the same path. My new friend offered me a place to stay and guidance in the right direction. They gave me support and guidance, and helped me find a job.
My life was finally starting to take a positive turn. I had a spiritual connection, was sober, and had a basic support system in place. My support system offered me an affordable place of my OWN to stay in. All my new friend asked in return was for me to pay it forward.
For the past 27 years, this has been my mission. I have seen too many people not make it out of the situation that I was in, and it is my mission to help as many people as possible come out of the depths of addiction and homelessness and take full control of their lives.
I have been involved with the local Ryan White consortium for 7 years. The group has implemented a Consumer Peer program, which directly deals with quality management, adherence and compliance within our area. It helps clients to stay in care and adhere to medications.
I began the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau, for individuals to speak out into the community on the fear and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and the importance of staying in care after testing positive for HIV/AIDS. The Positive Champions Speakers Bureau is a group of dedicated individuals just like you and me. Their sole purpose is to heighten community awareness and increase compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS. Positive Champion speakers provide their personal stories about living with HIV and provide answers on the disease. The Positive Champions give presentations to…