Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Awakening by Sonny Carroll; Inspirational

The Awakening 

by Sonny Carroll

A time comes in your life when you finally get it...
When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you
stop dead in your tracks and somewhere, the voice
inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!

Enough fighting and crying, or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening...

You realize that it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world, there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that's OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process, a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process, a sense of safety & security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process, a sense of peace & contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you, is a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. You begin to sift through all the junk you've been fed about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents. You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with and in the process, you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive and that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don't know everything; it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes.

You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love; and you learn that you don't have the right to demand love on your terms, just to make you happy.

You learn that alone does not mean lonely. You look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you "stack up."

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right, to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you, to glorify you with his touch and in the process, you internalize the meaning of self-respect.

And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise. You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. Just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul; so you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that for the most part in life, you get what you believe you deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen, is different from working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it's OK to risk asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time; FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears, because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear, is to give away the right to live life on your terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom. You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers; it's just life happening.

You learn to deal with evil in its most primal state; the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted; things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself, by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart's desire. You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind, and you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Poem I wrote titled "Another Day"

A part of me had slipped away
Hope and dreams began to fade
Days ahead were looking bleak
I never been this weak

When things aren’t going quite your way
It is easy to go astray
To disguise your fears
To flee from everyday

I’ve decided not to runaway
I took a step back
Took a look around
And will keep on my way

The days are not yet lost
My dreams are still to be
With strength, hope, and courage
Life will go on another day

This journey of discovery
Bound for up’s and downs
I’m determined to stay focused
And stand my ground

As the sun shines, and the ocean waves
A new dawn is on the way
A better light than what was to be
Will hover over me

When that day is achieved
Hope will have prevailed
Dreams will be unveiled
And life will go on another day

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The ADAP crisis, and the proverbial water-well

This morning I watched as 6 of 12 defenseless ducklings fell into a well, as the mother duck stood her ground and protected the other chic’s from making the same mistake. The mother duck’s quack became increasingly louder until residents of the apartment complex figured out what had happened, and rescued the baby chicks.
Had the mother’s quack not been so loud, and had others who could come to the rescue not been around; she would have lost 6 of her offspring. The chic’s quacks were faint being about 5 feet underground, and would have eventually been silenced by their eventual death, without anyone ever knowing. That mother duck knew that inaction AND silence could equal death.
That mother duck and her chicks and the people that came to the rescue are an epitome of the ever growing ADAP crisis occurring in our country right now.  8,310 humans are defenseless as they go untreated for their HIV/AIDS infection; defenseless because our government is not coming to the rescue to provide lifesaving medications.
Later in the day I saw the same man who came to the rescue pour green slimy water down that drain. This would have surely killed the ducklings. It’s kind of representative of what states are doing to its people, by lowering the FPL, and changing other eligibility criteria; overall making it harder for people to obtain medicine and other necessary resources for survival.  As we are being told in numerous state and nationally sponsored campaigns; get tested, know your status; we are also being told (if testing positive) that we cannot help you.  This ADAP crisis sends the opposite message; a message of hopelessness; why get tested if I can’t be treated?
Recent Research indicates that those on ARV (Anti-Retroviral medication) are 96 percent less likely to pass the virus onto their partner). Research also indicates that starting ARV earlier in the progression of the disease helps prevent the virus from replicating to a point that significantly destroys the immune system.  History tells us what untreated HIV infections can lead to; opportunistic infections, other illnesses, and DEATH.  History has shown that silence = death.  History has also shown that the power of voice, of action, of compassion, understanding, and care are the cornerstones of human existence.
With regard to the ADAP; voices are being displayed in public forums, through online initiatives, through teleconferences, through letter writing, and signing of petitions.  Within the HIV/AIDS community we are showing compassion, care, and understanding to our friends living with HIV/AIDS.  However, the “everyday” American has not caught on to the ADAP crisis, and most politicians and legislators are ill-informed, uneducated, and simply have become complacent to this issue.
What will it take?  8,000 people dying before this crisis makes the front page of the New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, the San Francisco chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Sentinel and other newspapers from across the country.  When will it hit the National news such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX and other local news channels?  When will our government step in to fix the problem? Before it’s too late?  
Just as the quack of the duck became increasing louder to save her baby chic’s, OUR voices must be heard and cannot be silenced; as we have seen with regard to the Arab spring; great things can be accomplished when people band together to create desired change.  
We have the medicine, we have the research to show us it works, and we have the history as a reminder to all of us what can happen when this disease is silenced.  History also show’s us the great accomplishments that have been made by our voices, AND our actions.
We can take this moment and seize it by rising up, standing out, and speaking up about HIV/AIDS and this ADAP crisis or we can take this moment; place it in the proverbial water well; only for our actions and words to be silenced. The latter CANNOT be an option.
Until there is a cure our government MUST not re-main complacent and must make sure that EVERY American living with HIV/AIDS has access to lifesaving and life sustaining medication which keep people alive and healthy.

Will you please sign this petition and leave a comment to tell Washington and States to STOP cuts to ADAP and other HIV/AIDS services; and to instead FULLY fund these programs!

Kevin Maloney

Video of baby chick's being rescued from a well

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tell congress and states to STOP cuts to ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs; restore full funding now!

On this the 30th year of the AIDS epidemic we are facing a perlious time in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with budget cuts occuring within Federal Government. These cuts are trickling down to states, who must then scramble and find ways to fund these critically important services and programs for PLWHA. This crisis has created a uncomfortable climate for those of us living with HIV/AIDS. People are worried that access to life saving and life sustaining medication will be cut off. We will not remain invincible, our voices in unity must be heard in order to prevent needless deaths and illnesses.

So many, but particularly Ryan White have paved the way for those of us LIVING with HIV/AIDS and today his legacy is being threatened. It is time that we re-ignite the movement in the fight for equal rights AND equal access to care for EVERYONE living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. WE MUST tell Washington and States to protect the legacy of Ryan White, and too FULLY fund ADAP and other HIV/AIDS under the Ryan White Care Act; these programs across the country are vital to the health of those of us living with HIV/AIDS.

Quoting the words of Jeanne White Ginder “the biggest contribution I think that Ryan made is, and I didn't know it at that time, that his legacy would be that people are getting their drugs and their treatment and that people are living with AIDS.” I wonder what his mother’s remarks would be today of this crisis.

There should be no reason, no excuse to have over 8,000 people currently waiting for life saving medications; AND thousands more across the country worried that access to their life sustaining medications will be cut off.

We are being told to get tested, know your status, but then being told in many states that we can’t help you. People testing positive in MANY states are being sent away with their name on a waiting list HOPING they will be called. For those who do not find out until they are so sick that they need to be on meds, what do we do? Is it too late for them? Can you imagine being told you have to wait, all the while knowing your immune system is weakining and your viral load increasing. Wait!?!

Today medicine is able to surpress the HIV virus to a point where the virus becomes undetectable, keeping people alive and healthy. For those not on medicine, the immune system may become compromised putting them at increased risk of opportunistic infections, and because their virus is not controlled with medicine; they are then at an increase risk of spreading the virus.

On May 12th, 2011 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill led an international study that shows early treatment with antiretroviral therapy prevents HIV transmission.

The study results show that early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in people infected with HIV prevents them from transmitting the virus to their partners. The study, known as HPTN 052, was designed to evaluate whether antiretroviral drugs can prevent sexual transmission of HIV infection among couples in which one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not. The results are the first of their kind from a major randomized clinical trial.

The result of the study was that those taking ARV were 96 percent less likely to pass on the disease than those who didn’t take ARV

This critical new finding convincingly demonstrates that early treatment of infected individuals can have a major impact on the spread of the epidemic. This finding gives further credance to the importance of fully funding ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs.

Then the New York Times posted an Oped by Charles M Blow, which you can read in it's entirety, by clicking here. The article is titled "Treatment as Prevention. This further bolsters the position to fully fund ADAP.

The cost comparison to treating vs not treating or funding vs not funding ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs would put a heavier burden on states, causing widening health disparities and needless illness and deaths. This is a burden that would be felt by tax payers too.

Also, how are we to meet the President's Goal in his HIV/AIDS initiative announced in July 2010 which calls for reducing HIV transmission by 20% over the next 5 years? This will not happen if Washington does not fully fund ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs across the country.

If full funding is not restored to HIV/AIDS related services under the Ryan White Care Act; then I fear we will see a flashback to the 80’s. People dying, but this time, not because of we have no drugs to treat the disease, but because we don’t have the funding to do so. It is time that we demand more from Washington, and get more people involved in the cause again.

I hope you will join with me and countless others across the country in signing this petition. A petition to tell our state and federal government that on the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic; full funding for ADAP and other HIV/AIDS programs is essential for PLWHA to sustain a healthy life and continue to survive.

I invite you to visit the Adap Advocacy Association (aaa+) and NASTAD's website. They are keeping tabs on this crisis and update their site frequently with the latest state waiting list numbers, cuts to formularies, changes to elegibility criteria, and other news when it comes to this crisis.


Will you please sign the below petition, post as your status update on facebook, to friends walls, tweet it, and use any e mail list serves you all may have. Every signature counts! I see no reason why we cannot get to 10,000 signatures! Your support is appreciated.


Kevin Maloney
Founder of RiseUpToHIV
Rising Up, Standing Out, and Speaking up about HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Facebook/Twitter @RiseUpToHIV
"Voices in unity strengthening community"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am Human, say hi to me; a piece I wrote

Take away the V from HIV and what do you have left? “Hi”

I am a brother, daughter, sister, neighbor, father, friend, cousin and a son.

I am a teacher. I’m a news anchor, a firefighter, police officer, doctor, a nurse; I save lives

I am a grandfather; I am a grandson

I am an actor, politician, and a priest.

I serve in the military; I am a veteran

I am a CEO; I am your colleague

I change the oil in your car; I am the cashier at the grocery store you shop at

I am the homeless guy you pass on the street

I am Human; say Hi to me

I am a new born, 7 years old, 13, 19, 24, 32, 47, 54, 62, 74, 82

I am a child, a teenager, adult, and a senior citizen

I am a man, a woman; I am transgendered.

I am straight, bi, and gay

I am your lover

I live the United States, Africa, Europe, South America, and the Middle East. I hail from Iran, Uganda, London, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Istanbul, Lybia, Syria, and Afghanistan. I am from Japan, live in the Caribbean, Canada, and the Isle of Man.

I am white, black, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Arab, Asian, European, Chinese, and Oriental

Most importantly and above all

I am Human; say hi to me

I sat next to you on the plane today

We stood in line together

That was me in the car driving beside you

My hand brushed up against yours on the subway

Your kids go to school with mine

I am your classmate

I was on the treadmill next to you at the gym

We drink from the same water fountain, swim in the same pool, congregate in the same areas

I am Human; say Hi to me

I am gay and you may not be

I have HIV and you may not

I have Hepatitis C and you may not have that either

I am shy and you may not be

You may not be a lot of the things I am or have; but I am still your neighbor, friend, colleague, classmate and your son.

And as long as I am here; I am somebody

I am Human; say hi to me

By: Kevin Maloney
Founder of RiseUpToHIV
Follow me on facebook and twitter @RiseUpToHIV

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cure research is heightening hope for 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS

May 13th, 2011
With the latest endowment of 23.4 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Maryland this week (the largest endowment yet) the research to find a vaccine or a cure seems to be heating up. After last year’s announcement and official announcement last month by German doctors that they had cured a man with HIV, known as the “berlin patient”; hope has been heightened for 33 million people throughout the world living with HIV.

Other news with regard to cure research include: (click date to go to article/website)

May 13th, 2011
In a promising, hope-inducing medical development that could potentially help those with the HIV virus and AIDS, scientists have created a vaccine that lets HIV-infected monkeys ward off the disease for more than a year, according to the Daily Mail.

May 13th, 2011
AmfAR announces new grants for cure research

March 1st, 2011
The CDC announced that they would be studying Antabuse, a treatment for cocaine addiction and alcoholism as a possible tool to help eradicate HIV, report researchers from the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

February, 2011
Gene therapy raises hope for a future AIDS cure

On May 3rd, 2010
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top-ranking infectious disease expert, on Friday said at a Capitol Hill briefing co-sponsored by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, that a “functional cure” for HIV/AIDS was “eminently feasible” through research.

Other Projects working towards a cure/vaccine
Re:solve is raising money to get a promising AIDS vaccine through testing and approval so that it can be distributed to everyone who needs it

If you have other news of research organizations working towards a cure, please send an e mail to kevin@riseuptohiv.org so that I may feature these initiatives on my blog.

Kevin Maloney
"Voices of unity strengethening community"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A message to ALL moms on Mother's Day

It’s Mother’s Day!
To all the Moms in the World, happy mother’s day! On this Mother’s day I woke up this morning, reflecting on what it would be like to be an HIV + mom; and an overwhelming amount of sadness came over me. As if being HIV positive is not a struggle in and of itself; how does this affect being a mom?  So, for a moment I thought what it would be like raising a child, and being HIV +, and I struggled with the thought.
Knowing that unless a cure is found I will likely pass before my child; however I hope I live long enough to put her on the bus for her first day of school, to see her graduate from high school, college, get married, and would look forward to being a grandma one day. In the meantime I’d do my best to raise her, instill every possible happy moment into her memory of me; creating every kodak moment possible.  I might even make a scrap book to detail everything.  I would probably even do a video to be shown to her post-partum as the character Jen did in the series Dawson’s Creeks (see below).
Then, I thought; would I even tell her?  And even if I would; at what age would be most appropriate. Does she really need to know?  I’d try to steer her in the right direction, giving her every bit of knowledge she would need to survive in the World; hoping that she would ultimately make the right decisions in her life, and not the mistakes I had made throughout mine.
I would encourage her to travel; and to see the world, to volunteer, and to remember the importance of giving, and championing herself to a cause.  I would love her like no tomorrow, cherish every moment with her, and be over protective of her wellbeing. I would keep myself as healthy as possible, as she would be my motivation for living.
You know, and then I got to thinking. Being HIV + doesn’t matter much in the grand picture. Above all I am a mom; I love my child, and want the best for her, and would love and take care of her until my last breath.  As most ANY mom would.
So, on Mother’s day; I would forget for a day that I am HIV positive, spend quality time with my child and make the best of a day celebrating me.  To ALL moms in the world today, Happy Mothers Days!

Kevin Maloney

I don’t mean to make any Mother cry on Mother’s day, but this was a touching scene from Dawson’s Creek many years ago that I think of often.

RiseUpToHIV Daily News Digest