Friday, July 6, 2012

Dan shares his story living with HIV/AIDS; "I never bothered to get tested because I was afraid"

Guest Blogger: Dan Mangini shares his story

Too often in my life, I have allowed silence to control me, to manipulate me and to allow me to ‘just fit in’. Looking back on my journey, I have missed many opportunities to be a better person, to change someone’s life for the better and to save my own because I have remained SILENT! I cannot accept this silence any longer in my life!
 
To do so is to reject the very truth of my existence!

As most of you know my personal story: you know that I have had quite a journey! I share this journey openly and honestly now as part of my calling:

I survived sexual abuse as a child, survived bullying because of my sexuality as a teen,
escaped death TWICE by failed suicide attempts, while in the throes of a battle, a deadly battle, with crystal meth. I fight each day with all these things still in my mind but do so for the betterment of others. My biggest battle yet, has been with HIV/AIDS.

I was diagnosed just seven years ago with full-blown AIDS and PCP pnemonia.

I never bothered to get tested because I was afraid.

By the time I was told I was infected, I was also told that my chances to survive were almost non-existent. For weeks I teetered between life and death. For months, surviving this illness and called a miracle, I sat with myself and asked myself, why?

I could not fathom why I was spared and what kind of life I could ever have again that would be worth living. This was the beginning of an AMAZING journey!

AIDS nearly took my life and yet it was at this point that it became the biggest blessing in my life! For once, it became all clear! I was spared by the Divine because I had not discovered myself or my truth, all those years leading up to this point.

Everything I had accomplished paled in comparison to the riches that awaited me via my diagnosis! I now have purpose and real meaning!

So many ask why I constantly am speaking out on the subjuect of HIV/AIDS. They tell me to just go on living, to not focus on it and that things would be better for me. Silence your voice and let it all go, they all say.

I cannot and I will not! Why?

There are many reasons! First and foremost, I have discovered my passion, a rare thing that many people in their lifetimes never achieve! I have found something worthy and life-changing in my work! I am a VOICE for HIV/AIDS, a voice that needs to be heard, a voice that has been previosuly silenced in the media because it isnt big news, people are living with HIV and it is not a death sentence in most cases!

HOW wrong this all is! Every day people are becoming infected with this virus and many more are DYING from it. Whether it is from AIDS-related issues or the very meds we take, we are dying by the thousands! Too many people are NOT aware of this!

Philadelphia has twice the new infection rate of NYC and five times the national average….HORRIFIC!!!  

Too many fall silent on the subject because of the stigma and predjudice that surrounds this virus.
Too many remain complacent becasue they are not educated enough.
Too many voices have been silenced by death including my best friend just last year.
These are just SOME of the reasons I will not remain silent. I will continue to speak out and speak up for all of us living with HIV/AIDS because too many cannot! I will fight to see a day when this pandemic ends with both a safe and effective vaccine against it and a cure!

I will NEVER allow silence to take a hold of me and will continue to educate, share my journey and raise awareness of everything HIV-related until I take my very last breath.

I hope I am remembered as that “guy with AIDS” because then I will know I have done something incredible with my life! I will continue to raise funds, to raise awareness, to recruit for this vaccine that we NEED and continue to share my journey as a light and beacon of hope for those infected and affected!

I was spared death so that I could FINALLY become the REAL Dan. I seek no personal gain from my work but the knowledge that I have reached new ears, been a positive role model and have made a difference!

To Silence I only say: NEVER! You have stolen such beautiful spirits from us already!

You will not steal mine, I AM making a difference!

You can reach Dan here: djm1430@hotmail
and on Facebook:

Philly Vax (Volunteer for an HIV Vaccination Study)

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