Monday, March 7, 2011
One year living with HIV and Hepatitis C
I didn’t cry, and I had no questions. I knew what HIV was, I knew it could be treated, and I knew I wasn’t going to immediately die, but I didn’t know how long I could live either. The doctor explained it was not a death sentence, asked me how I was feeling psychologically; I said ok (even though I wasn’t) and then left his office.
I was on vacation from my job that week, and suddenly found myself in crisis mode. My mission then was to seek help and I began to put an immediate action plan into place. First, I called Callen-Lorde which was the local LGBT clinic and they were able to get me in that NEXT morning at 930 am. They drew about 20 tubes of blood on that first visit and I made a follow up appointment one week later.
I enrolled into an intense outpatient program at the realization center and a support group. I met someone in the support group who introduced me to CMA (Crystal Meth Anonymous). I attended nearly daily meetings, and got a sponsor right away. I was meeting and interacting with people who shared the same issues I was dealing with, and I found a lot of comfort in that.
So how did I get hepatitis C? I got it through either sharing a straw to snort methamphetamine or through unsafe sexual contact. During the month I was at the realization center I felt all along that it was not the program for me. I needed more structure, and needed to be surrounded by more LGBT peers.
While the staff and programing was ok at the Realization Center – I needed different level of care for what I was now dealing with. HIV, Hepatitis C, and a Substance abuse issue. I was on the verge of a total breakdown.
Someone told me about the Pride Institute just outside of Minneapolis, MN. They are an LGBT treatment facility. I spent 32 days in the facility, surrounded by peers, and an amazing staff of caring individuals. They allowed me to come to grips with my dual diagnosis, and learn about my addiction; now cryal clear for nearly a year now.
After leaving pride I was essentially homeless. My apartment lease in NYC had expired. Facing no place to go – I called my Dad. I told my dad in one call that “I am in rehab for crystal meth, that I have HIV AND Hepatitis C and that I need a place to stay when I get out”. He told me I could come live with him and his Girlfriend. Later I learned my Dad broke down when he got off the phone with me and cried thinking I was going to die. My father does not cry. In hindsight I wish I had broken the news a bit better.
Posted by Kevin Maloney at 9:34 PM