Stories Of Promise - I’ve Been Given a New Lease on Life
My name is J.R. I don’t hang out and do crazy things, but I did almost die in the Emergency Room not long ago. I’m usually very healthy, but I suddenly and unexpectedly became really sick, and I began looking real bad too. I had become terribly skinny, and my skin had started turning into scales. After the ER doc ran a few blood tests, he came into my room and announced I had HIV! He explained that the virus had already begun attacking my lungs, which is why I had COPD and pneumonia too.
It was a trying time because I didn’t know too much about HIV. I also didn’t know where to get help and I wanted to start HIV meds because I found out I needed them in order to get healthy again. By this time, I had lost my apartment because I was too sick to work, but God blessed me with an angel.
A woman at the Health Department knew some people at Broward House who help people like me with HIV/AIDS. They gave me a bed, some clothes, 3 meals a day, and connected me with the care I needed to get healthy. They also made sure I got on HIV meds and made sure I took them regularly. It took a long time for my viral load to go down, but by the time I left Broward House, I was undetectable, which mean I effectively have no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV negative partner through sex. If it wasn't for me accepting help and taking my HIV meds, there's no telling where I'd be - maybe dead on the street or something.
Today I’m 68-year-old, but I feel like I’m in my forties or fifties because I am taking better care of my health and taking my HIV meds consistently. I feel as if I’ve been given a new lease on life, and I want people to know that no matter their age or how ashamed they may feel about their circumstances, there is help out there and people who care. We can all take care of ourselves.