Archive for the 'real life stories' Category

08
Jan
08

A Young Man Learns to ‘Embrace’ His HIV Status

This article is part of the Washington Post’s “A Living HIV Quilt”.

Carl, a 19-year-old Prince George’s County resident, spoke with reporter Susan Levine about finding out that he was HIV-positive — and about his life after the diagnosis. Excerpts from that conversation:

I’ve now been diagnosed for two years. Well, not two years, going on two years. January 13th. I found out on January 13th, 2006. It was Friday the 13th. I never forget, Friday the 13th, what a horrible day to find out . . .

I do not know when or where I was infected. . . . All I can give is a time period, an estimated time period anywhere between the ages of 15 and 16.

If you are what they call an at-risk person, the average teen, you kind of know, you’ve got to know, you have a feeling, look, I’m doing certain things, I’m living a certain lifestyle that can be damaging in the future.

So kind of by the age of 17, I started thinking, you know, all my friends kept saying, we’re all gonna go get tested, and we should all get tested together, but I lived with a certain fear because, a fear of knowing. You know, I kind of said to myself, I think I might have it, but I’m not sure.

To me, at the time, at the time, not knowing was waaaay better than knowing. Because if I didn’t know, I did not have to deal with the pressures or, for lack of understanding at the time, you know, ending my life. You know, it was like a death thing, what I thought at the time.

I was very uneducated about the subject. You know, when things came up on TV about AIDS or HIV, when they talked about it in school, I kind of ran away from it. You know, cut the channel, cover my eyes, ’cause I was scared of, I was scared of the facts, I didn’t want to know the facts, I wanted to stay ignorant to the subject . . . because as long as I was ignorant to the subject, I thought, Okay, I’m fine.

That kept me sane. I’m thinking, If I don’t know anything about it, I’m fine. But if I knew what was going on, it made me feel more and more guilty about the things I was doing as a teenager.

I was afraid my mom was going to throw me out, she was going to disown me as her child. . . . I did not know what the outcomes could be, you know. We didn’t grow up with the best of relationships, so I didn’t know how she was going to feel if I was positive.

Click here for the rest of this article>>

21
Oct
07

How HIV man became a proud dad

LIKE a lot of men, Perry Evans had always taken for granted that one day he would become a dad.

But at the young age of 24 his world came crashing down around him when doctors told him that he was HIV positive.

Perry, originally from Aberavon, Port Talbot, was a haemophiliac and had accidentally been infected with the virus by an NHS blood transfusion.

Not only did he think it would end his dreams of starting a family – but he thought he would have just a few years to live.

The 46-year old said: “When I found out I was HIV positive at the age of 24, I felt as if I’d been handed a death sentence.

“My future just disappeared – it was assumed I’d never have unprotected sex, never father children. Worst of all, I was told I’d only have another two to five years to live before dying a painful death.

“And in my head, those few years were going to be sexless and loveless.”

But rather than resigning himself to being ill, Perry put on a brave face and resolutely decided to make the best of his life.

He said: “It was actually my mum who took it hardest though.

“Because haemophilia is passed on maternally, she already felt guilty for my health problems.

“But I’ve always faced things head-on, and I quickly came to terms with it. What choice did I have? I realised HIV didn’t have to stop me living.”

Perry was keen to start a relationship, but was fully aware that a lot of girls might have been deterred by his illness.

But he soon fell for a woman called Heather, who was 22 at the time.

He said: “I dated a couple of girls, but because I’m a Christian sex was always something I was saving for marriage.

“It didn’t become an issue until I met Heather in 1987. I knew straight away she was special – that she could be the one. I told her about my HIV status on our second date.

“I would have been gutted if she’d turned round and said, ‘Sorry, I want a man who can give me kids,’ or didn’t want to know me because of the disease. But it was a risk I knew I had to take.”

Although Heather admits that she was hesitant to begin with, she also believed that the relationship was too special to pass by.

Perry said: “Thankfully for me, Heather was brilliant about it. She didn’t freak out, and she told me soon after I dropped the bombshell that she’d decided she wanted to give things a go.

“A year later, we were married. Thinking I only had five years, tops, to live, there was no point in us hanging round.

“Of course, I worried about leaving Heather a widow and taking away her chance of becoming a mum. But I figured she’d still be young enough to meet someone else after I’d gone.”

From the very beginning Perry and Heather were constantly told by doctors that they would never be able to have children.

But despite Perry’s deteriorating health, the couple were determined to give it a go. They had heard about a pioneering technique called ‘sperm washing’ that looked like it could give them the chance to be parents.

Perry said: “Before I got HIV, I’d always thought I’d be a dad. But it was something I’d learnt not to think about. And so when I heard about sperm washing, I was really excited.”

The process allows doctors to separate the male’s sperm from the HIV virus. The sperm is then injected into the female egg using artificial insemination.

But the couple were told that there was still a three to six per cent risk of either Heather or the baby contracting the disease.

Neither did – and the couple were blessed with not one but two children.

Perry said: “Luckily it worked, and in 2001 Isaac was born. It was overwhelming. Then, in 2005 we were blessed with our beautiful daughter, Cerian.”

The couple, who now live in Worcestershire, will soon celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. And although they don’t know what’s around the corner, they are living each and every day to the full.

Perry said: “My kids are a ray of sunshine. I try not to waste a moment and spend as much time as I can with them.

“I’ve got liver disease now, and I know I won’t be around forever. But just being here, with a wonderful wife and two kids, is a miracle.”

andrew.dagnell@mediawales.co.uk

08
Oct
07

Hope’s Voice: Does HIV Look Like Me?

Hope’s Voice is a national HIV and AIDS organization committed to promoting the education and prevention of HIV and AIDS to young adults. Hope’s Voice uses open dialogue and peer-to-peer education, through both speaker appearances of young adults living with HIV and AIDS and progressive programs to send this crucial message: HIV and AIDS does not discriminate. Hope’s Voice aims to raise awareness and help young adults create the social change that is needed to end this epidemic.

The organization represents a group of talented and diverse young adults, all living with HIV and AIDS. Their speakers prove, the disease shows no preference towards gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, demographic or economic status.

05
Oct
07

Aids Walk Washington This Saturday!!! Oct 6th, 2007

AIDS Walk Washington is October 6, 2007

1 out of 20 District residents is infected with HIV. That’s 5% of the population
1 out of 50 District residents is already living with AIDS
If DC were a country it would rank in between The Republic of Congo and Rwanda in terms of HIV infection rates!

Put Your Foot Down – Register Today!

Show your support for Whitman-Walker Clinic at the 21st annual AIDS Walk Washington on Saturday, Oct. 6, at Freedom Plaza. The goal is 25,000 walkers, one for each person living with HIV in the District of Columbia. You can register as an individual walker or build a team of 10 or more people.

For more information on AIDS Walk, call 202-332-WALK or visit the AIDS Walk website . Check out the TV PSAs produced by NBC4!

PSA 1
PSA 2

The Grand Marshall this year is Chip Arndt. You may remember Chip Arndt from his stint on the TV show The Amazing Race. Chip and then-partner Reichen Lehmkuehl won not only the big prize, but also plenty of attention for being the first same-sex couple to do so. Even before the show, Chip Arndt was known for his support of LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes. Since the show, however, he has been able to do even more.

Come out on this Saturday and show your support!!!

26
Sep
07

Mexican court: HIV-positive soldiers may serve

In a landmark decision, the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that the forced expulsion of soldiers from military bodies because they are HIV-positive is unconstitutional:

“Being HIV-positive does not in itself imply an inability to serve in the armed forces,” the judges wrote in the ruling issued Monday. “Therefore it will be up to the military to determine, case by case, if the degree of effect on the soldier’s health makes it impossible to remain in active service.”

The ruling was made by the Supreme Court after hearing five consecutive cases with the same charge: that soldiers had been discharged from the armed forces because of their HIV status. Back in February, the Court ordered the Mexican Army and Marines to readmit four soldiers who were discharged because they were HIV-positive. – Univision

14
Sep
07

Cambodia and Ethiopia: Real life stories of people living with HIV & hunger

2006 WFP/A K Kimoto Chea and her husband Hom receive a WFP food ration, which helps ensure that their TB and anti-retroviral treatment is as effective as possible.

Cambodia: Chea, Hom and Nob Nem

11 August 2006 – Chea, 36, worked as a construction laborer in Phnom Penh. “I don’t know when I became HIV-positive but we were both tested in 2005 during Hom’s pregnancy.”

“I am on anti-retroviral therapy but now I have TB. At the moment I am too ill to work, though I am slowly improving and want to work again,” said Chea.

Normally he earns roughly $US7.50 per month.

Making ends meet

Hom brings in a small income by recycling rice bags into ropes for leading cattle.

It is labour intensive work and she manages to make 100 to 200 ropes per month, which sell for $US1.50 per hundred.

“Both our families sold their land and cattle in order to pay for treatment and food for us,” she explained.

After giving birth to their daughter, Hom required blood transfusions which finished the money completely.

Reflecting on the future

“We have nothing except our healthy baby,” she added. The baby’s grandmother, Nob Nem, is visibly upset as she contemplates the family’s future.

The baby is her first grandchild and she has spent much time with her while Hom was ill.

“We are accepted in the village. Whenever anyone needs anything we are there,” Nob Nem says.

The family relies on Partners in Compassion, a local non-governmental organization for assistance.

The package of care they receive includes a food ration from WFP, which helps ensure that the TB and anti-retroviral treatment that Chea and Hom receive is as effective as possible.

Ethiopia: Tsehai Tesfaye

My name is Tsehai Tesfaye. I’m 37 years old and come from a very poor family.

I have never worked other than being a sex worker. Any guy who would pay me for love was welcome. This was how I earned a living.

As I was going out with different men, I was often sick with sexually transmitted infections.

Poor health

I have a feeling I got the virus from the one man I fell in love with. The guy was handsome, had a good job that paid him well.

We had a decent life for some time. But I started getting sick, so we separated.

Three years ago, I was tested and told that I am HIV-positive. Now my health is sporadic. I have an aching chest, a sore throat and a cough.

In this clinic where you found me, there were some 30 of us who were taking treatments for HIV.

Surviving

Most have died and the few of us still alive survive thanks to the Community Based Integrated Sustainable Development Organization.

I’m also receiving food. Thanks to the organization, I’m receiving 30 kilo grammes of wheat and some cooking oil.

I’m actually well fed and am not induced to go the other way to earn a living.

Family infected

I head a family of nine, seven of whom are my children. Three in the family – my youngest daughter, my brother and myself – are living with the HIV virus.

My youngest daughter was almost always sick and losing weight. So I took her to the health center where they told me the reality. I think she got it from me.

I’m doing my part for my 20-year-old daughter to prevent her from falling into the miserable life I led.

Young as she is, I’m advising her to be careful in her life. I don’t know to what extent I’ll be successful.

Good nutrition vital

Now I see one big problem. If I fall ill for a longer period of time, that may force my three young kids to look after me, which will eventually affect their schooling.

I openly tell to all I have the virus in my body and advise them they should be watchful not to be infected.

I even warn those who have the virus that they should eat nutritious food as much as possible so they live longer.

When I don’t eat well, the illness becomes worse; all my body becomes full of rashes. Had it not been for the food I am still getting, you wouldn’t have seen me talking to you now.

- World Food Programme 

10
Sep
07

Nepal: ‘HIV infection is not end of life’

KATHMANDU, Sept 7: It is double trouble for women infected with HIV/AIDS. Already being the victims of the deadly disease, they face rampant discrimination from the society mainly because they are women.

Speaking at an interaction organized by Shakti Milan Samaj (SMS), Goma Rai, who is in the terminal state of HIV, said the society about change the perception of looking at women with HIV/AIDS.

SMS is a non-government organization established by women infected with HIV for the protection, promotion and empowerment of women and children having HIV.

Rai and all the members of the organization are infected by HIV as a result of trafficking and drugs abuse. Initially, the organization was established by two persons infected with HIV/AIDS. Now, it has more than 40 members.

She said members of SMS, who were shunned by their families and society, are now involved in income generating activities and leading an independent life.

The SMS provide financial help to members who are willing to do get into income-generating activities.

Another victim Sarita Shrestha said she got the virus from her husband who was a drug addict. Her husband is dead now and she has been living under the care of SMS.

“When I knew that I was infected with HIV all my dreams were shattered. But now I have realized that to be infected with HIV is not the end of life and this has boosted my confidence,” Sarita said.

Chairman of National Non-Government Organization Network against HIV/AIDS. Hari Awasthi, said the awareness campaign should reach out to all over Mid-and Far-Western Regions from where many youths have migrated abroad for employment during the conflict making them vulnerable to the virus.

Rajiv Kafle, the anti-AIDS campaigner, said the anti-HIV/AIDS programme should be expanded to Far-Western Region in order to collect the actual number of women infected with HIV and AIDS. He also stressed on the need for awareness programme in the remote part such as Darchula, Achham and Doti of the region.

President of National AIDS and STD Control Padam Bahadur Chand said that the government and NGOs working for the elimination of HIV/AIDS should distribute the resources equally all over the country.

He said the real problems of women and children infected by HIV and AIDS could not be brought out to the open unless the government and NGOs reach out to the far-and mid-western parts of Nepal.





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