Stories Of Promise - I’m Going To Do This For Myself
There was a time in my life when I could barely get out of bed. I was always tired. When my mom was alive, we went to get medical advice to seek out what was wrong. That's when I got my diagnosis that I was HIV+. They linked me to a great doctor across the street and he got me to an undetectable level, where antiretroviral treatment has reduced the HIV virus to such small quantities that it can no longer be detected by standard blood tests, within nine months.
When my mom passed away, my insurance suddenly stopped. I had to figure out what Ryan White benefits were. I quickly ran out of my HIV meds and was trying to figure out, “What do I do here? How do I get myself linked back to care?” And you know, the phrase, not every helping hand is there to watch you succeed? That's what happened. I went back to a friend’s place and started a very deep drug addiction where I didn't leave his space again for another five weeks.
It took me a while for the viral count to come down, but it eventually did and now I’m under 15. This means I’m undetectable and cannot transmit the virus. Everything in life is another hurdle or obstacle thrown at you. No matter what stigma, or how people may feel, if I stick to what I know, with medications, I'm going to be fine. What doesn’t kill you gets you stronger, and this is that. The fact that you literally must fight to stay alive just boosts you up even more. There’s a path for you to follow in order to stay healthy.
I knew I needed treatment when spots started appearing on my body. It was syphilis, but it felt like chicken pox. The spots were itchy, but I’d already had the chickenpox. I knew it was something different. There are a lot of parts of my story where I keep falling and trying to get back up, and realizing I'm not trying hard enough to get back up. The wind keeps knocking me over. There was a time when I was reaching out for help. It took one person, a friend of mine. He said this is the last option to go to. At this point I didn’t know what else to do. He took my hand and just walked me into a treatment center.
When I was in treatment, the consistency of being able to take my meds and having someone there to distribute them, helped me. Because it can be hard to remember to take them every day. The consistency during treatment helped me. It helped me to build a routine where I can remember my medicines so that now, every time I go to the bathroom, I see them. So, when I see them, I take them.
Living with HIV was a challenge when I was depressed. Now that I have a consistent doctor, I told him about it. He prescribed anti-depressants. Ever since I'm pretty happy. I'm okay. I'm not letting my HIV status limit me anymore because I can do the same things as anybody else that doesn't have HIV. And, HIV is not going to stop me. I realized, today's not an excuse to not be healthy. There are so many different resources out there that are willing to help you. All you have to do is step your foot in the door and ask for help. There's no reason why you should be living with a detectable viral load especially when there are a lot of resources out there that are motivated to help. For three years I’ve been linked to care and taking my HIV meds. I see a doctor once every six weeks. I can go running again because I’m healthy. I'm starting to feel what a responsible adult is be capable of doing.