Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rod's Story living with HIV

Rod's Story:

I first became aware of AIDS, called GRID when I was an undergrad in 1982. It wasn't known what it was, just that it seemed to be a form of gay cancer.

So, "safe sex" was taught later in the mid to late 80s. I was a safe sex advocate and used my volunteer work to spread the message. I became aware of the bigotry from other gay folkls when I saw the gay couple come in the smaLL GAY BAR AND get shunned. Little did I know that in 1989 I was HIV negative, but didn't do very good at self-care. I had numerous partners and tested Poz in March of 90. All we had was AZT and it was what I was put on. I reacted to HIV very badly. I was so low on self esteem, angry, sad, confused and resentful of the people who talked about me behind my back in Nebraska. I got into some legal trouble and served some time for a couple offenses. I paroled in 1992 to Kansas City, because I wanted to get away from being gossiped about, the legal system and just start anew. I stayed in a homeless shelter in KC and eventually got my own apartment.

I had an AIDS buddy and things were looking good. I went to several community collges and then in 2002 completed my MA in Counseling and Guidance with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Counseling.

Prior to that, in around 1994 or so, I acquired shingles and thrush. I had various friends die during the years. I had a dear friend in DC that died in 1998 or some year when there wasn't the "cocktail" of drugs available. God blessed me I guess to outlive the others with my medications. I have been ND for a couple of years or so. I have been on the same regimen for about 5 years.

Hope that my story will inspire someone to share as well.

In around 1990, I was discriminated against by a dentist in family practice that told me they couldn't help me because they would have to clean their entire operating room. So, I found a dentist at a local dental college and they helped me. This past year I received dentures and was treated very humanely by the dentist at the dental school here.

Much of my family has distanced themselves so I live life with one BFF and am open to knowing other people.

Warm regards,
ROD

In a follow up I asked Rod to explain to me what an AIDS Buddy was/is; his response.

An AIDS buddy is from the Shanti Project in San Francisco. It was done in Kansas City and Nebraska. What it is is someone who wants to be supportive, help a PWA or PWHIV with being a buddy. For example, be like having a mentor or someone who gives a crap, is the blunt way to say it. I had one in Nebraska and he was a minister.

Here is what it's called now and where you can find out more information about the program: http://www.shanti.org

Thanks Rod for sharing your story, and providing invaluable information. Your story WILL inspire other. Good luck to you. Be well.

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