Friday, January 21, 2011

Herman's inspirational story of survival living with HIV

In looking for stories of inspiration and hope, and those who are Rising Up, Standing Out, and Speaking Up about HIV; Herman answered my call and sent me the following story along with some pictures. His story is unique and inspirational.  Thank you Herman for answering the call. Please read on.....

My name is Herman Young. I am HIV+. I was diagnosed in 2004.

I have a very unique story. In 2006 I started to show signs that my body was losing the fight with HIV. I got Shingles and lost a lot of weight. My lymph nodes were very swollen to the point that my Doctors did a biopsy. I was unofficially told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so I moved from Chicago back to Michigan to be closer to family. I was not taking any form of meds yet. I went to get a second opinion and an infectious disease Dr. suggested we start the drug Atripla. Within 2 weeks my swollen glands were gone and I was told that I did NOT have Lymphoma! Happy News! Within a few short months I was undetectable!

About 9 months into treatment my labs showed that the Atripla had raised my cholesterol to dangerous levels, so my Doctor prescribed Lovastatin to help lower my Cholesterol. Within 12 days of taking these two drugs together I suffered Acute Liver Failure. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital with Encephalopathy. The Doctors were waiting to see if my liver would recover but it did not.

At the recommendation of my primary care physician I went to the University Of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor to see if they could help me. Long story short, after many stays at U of M I was put on the transplant list and I was sent home to wait. I was told it could be days or even weeks! Amazingly, I was called 9 hours later and told to return to U of M, they had a liver for me! I hadn’t even unpacked! On February 25th 2008 I had a liver transplant. I am the very first and only HIV patient in the State of Michigan to ever have a liver transplant to date! 7 days later I was sent home and have been doing extremely well ever since.

I am NOT ashamed of being HIV+, it has made me a better man! Generally my status is one of the first things out of my mouth whenever I am introduced to ANYONE! It has been very empowering because many people do not know someone that is HIV+. I like to put a face to the disease, and when they see that I am a very nice person I believe that their views are changed a bit. I am all about Stopping the Stigma!
I was looking for your email address because I had some pictures that I wanted to send you to show you how far i've come, and even though it has been a major challenge, I am very grateful for my health, my life, and the fact that I still have a wonderful outlook on life!

I really appreciate your interest in obtaining stories of people rising up to HIV.
For me, I volunteer for my local HIV agency LAAN (Lansing Area Aids Network) We have a food pantry so I drive clients from pantry to their homes. I also volunteer my time at out testing sites, and at various college locations encouraging students to get tested.

Here are 4 pictures of Herman: Herman now, the day before his liver transplant, day after transplant, and 3

Herman was also featured in a newspaper story for Worlds AIDS DAY back in December.

If you would like to e mail Herman his e mail address is:

If you have a story you would like to share. Please send an e mail to

1 comment:

  1. it is people like you who have the strength and courage to prove the world wrong and because of you many others get the strength to face this obstacle. and keep on passing on your positive attitude and energy to those who dont have enough power to overcome this problem. may god bless you and everyone else who is not afraid to say who they are once may god bless you. although i am hiv negative but i want to thank you for telling us we are all equal and hiv is not a punishment to those who have it it just a small test of life and if you are strong enough nothing will go wrong


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