All posts tagged thepozlife

20 Posts

Back To My Roots (Part 2)

So in life we as humans are constantly growing and evolving. It’s an attempt to better us and strive to achieve the unthinkable. So many times I have caught myself being ok with the status quo and being surrounded by those individuals who didn’t have my back or best interests. Being diagnosed with HIV in 2011 really forced me to go through a sort of metamorphosis and reassess my life.

Recently many folks have been asking, “Did you go and decide to end ThePozLife.com?” The truth is that I decided to do some serious soul searching and adult decision-making. Believe it or not I used to fly before for a regional airline; however, I was sexually assaulted on an overnight and that scarred me so much flying and overnighting in hotel rooms were never the same. That night in Chicago I learned to stop being so naïve and trusting of others. Since then I had gone to working within the for profit sector before transitioning to non-profits and finally a state health department. Since being diagnosed with HIV I have been seeing a mental health professional, discovering who I was, pushing myself to go outside of my perceived limits, and then going back to accomplish my dreams. While working in the HIV field I honestly became disgusted and annoyed. I felt as if I was in a remake of the movie Mean Girls and was among folks who were in the market of making themselves “famous and notarized,” by their work rather than letting the work speak for itself. I found myself surrounding by cliques of academics, community mobilizers, social media gurus, and socialites and began to lose my identity and purpose. That was not Patrick. I was far from my roots of just posting long ass YouTube videos where I’d vent and just aimlessly talk. More importantly I lost focus and connection on the actual experience of living with and moving through life with HIV. I was now in a place where I was talking at people rather than sharing my experiences. Am I bitter how individuals in the field treated me? Yes, however I have had so many great experiences with a handful of folks who have given me so much more than a clique can; therefore, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones.IMG_6644

It’s very frustrating to work among people who had no passion or drive to really touch people’s lives. More importantly among people who use HIV and people living with it as a tool to gain personal profits and increased social status.   I had a coming to Jesus moment where I had to really think about my future. Did I really want to wake up one day 60 years old and had been totally committed to ending the epidemic of HIV that I was not able to pursue my dreams, work within my dream job and primarily being surrounding by people who were in the same situation. Or did I want to break back into a dream job that I loved doing where I could utilize all of my talents. At that point I was close to a decision to go back to being a flight attendant.

The final straw that broke my back was being at a conference in Atlanta earlier this year where someone tried to tell me to look and carry myself a certain way when around people of power and influence. I was very confused at to why I would be invited to become part of an organization but then forced to change to be the ultra conservative, suit wearing, name throwing, and inability to have humility that they had. It wasn’t my thing and seeing how particular folks can be really changed my perspective on the colleagues in the field I worked with.

Since leaving I have not heard from many folks in the HIV and Public Health field and if I have heard from them it is honestly for something they want. I am not writing that to complain but to let you know that in life you come across people throughout your individual journey to greatness and you may not take them to you. It is ok for them to come and go. This is simply apart of the human experience. It is so important to focus on your dreams and the necessary people you either have to knock over or get through to get to the finish line. The other important thing is to make sure that you keep those valuable friends and allies on your side. These folks will support you when you are up or down in the dumps.

Being a flight attendant for one of the greatest airlines in the world is a blessing. The experience of living with HIV within a Fortune 500 company is different but I am ready for the challenge and blessed that I am able to share every moment I can with you. Remember living and with HIV is a unique situation. We have many ups and downs the others will never know about. I just keep my faith and positivity that things will work out. This ideology has not failed me yet.IMG_6617

“Im going back, back, back to my roots

Where my love can be found and my heart rings true

Im going back, back, back to my roots

To the time and the place, coming back to you.” – Rupaul 

S**T Said to Poz Guys Online

Like it or not but HIV related stigma can be seen everywhere. From the entertainment industry all the way to our phones. Mobile networking apps or as I like to call them “FCK or Hookup apps,” carry much of the stigma. Many of these companies like Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, and Adam4Adam do provide ways for AIDS Service Organizations/Community-based organizations to advertise services, and is a great opportunity to outreach to our community. Many of these applications allow for you to share your status, and even note your last testing date if you are positive; however, we are still turned down, blocked, or face ridiculous comments when we disclose our status to people or reach out to them as a openly positive person.  So here goes a list of the SHIT IGNORANT GUYS SAY TO POZ GUYS Online:    

 

“Are you clean/DDF?IMG_6869

Let’s face it before you can even get into saying what you are into or what your favored dick size is you are faced with either reading this in a profile or after a light exchange of messages. What tickles us is the fact that folks common sense would either be confused by what someone means by clean or not disclose one’s STD and HIV status in order to bust a nut or avoid being discriminated against. Let’s not mention the fact that many are positive yet just do not know it.  How about saying something like “I frequently test and currently negative for all STDs including HIV.  How about you?”  We are all clean.  Let’s stop using cleanliness to describe status and keep it in the hygiene category.

 

“Sooo… can you still fuck?IMG_7183

I take it that the  lack of comprehensive sex education and just lack of contact with positive guys attributes to this. It is really sad that guys think that an HIV positive diagnosis means that we have to give up our sexual pleasure. Yes, guys who are positive can have sex and lots of it. Many use the term “undetectable to share that they are virally suppressed and on top of the virus.” Studies have shown that an undetectable viral load means a significant decrease of being infected with HIV if exposed.

 

“Why are you still having sex and/or bare backing if you are positive?”  

IMG_7108 The answer is simply because I can. Just because someone is HIV positive doesn’t mean they have to confine themselves to a life of celibacy nor only have sex with positive guys. It’s all about sex positivity. If both parties are cool with it then so be it.

 

 

 

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“But you’re such a good guy.”

 I’m still a good guy. Being HIV positive doesn’t change who I am as a person.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I prefer my guys clean or DDF.”

IMG_4643Yet if no one even mentioned HIV you wouldn’t have brought it up or asked when the last time I tested (or cared if it was more than a year). So many put clean or DDF in their profile yet don’t understand you are basically saying anyone who is not STI or HIV free is dirty. Plenty of times you wouldn’t even be able to know a person’s actual status based of off window periods.  We need to learn to have healthy conversations surrounding current STI and HIV status.

 

 

 

How did you get it?

IMG_0683 HIV isn’t something you just pick up off the sale rack at TJ MAXX. Everyone’s experience with the virus is different. More importantly, it’s probably not your business. There are some people who are willing to talk about their own story, but that doesn’t mean you should assume it’s okay to ask other poz people the same question. It could be a difficult conversation for some people to have based off of past negative or traumatic experiences . Don’t be that person who reopens old and unhealed wounds.

 

 

“Who gave it to you?”tumblr_n8qcsl5s0w1tdjuqvo1_500

Who gave you Herpes? Oops was that too much? I mean it’s like asking someone what they went to jail for. Let the person tell you that information when they feel comfortable around you. Again there is such a thing as too much information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Well you don’t look like you have it?”IMG_8295

What does someone who has HIV look like? Remember we are now in 2015 not the 80s. Due to the available and much needed medications, research, medical services, behavioral health services, prevention options, and so many other programs we have the necessary things to stay healthy. Folks living with HIV keep their viral loads down, their CD4 counts/percentages up, and overall holistic health flourishing. Some people don’t look like total a-holes but hey looks can be deceiving, am I right? Listen, people with HIV look like you or me or him or her or them. HIV doesn’t look any specific way. Did you think I’d be wasting away? That we’d be frail and sickly little things? On the contrary, there are lots of hot guys out there living with HIV! (See thepozlife.com and this article for perfect examples.)

 

 

“Isn’t it like you just take a pill and everything is good?”

IMG_0743If only that was the case. Folks who are positive deal with so much stuff that goes beyond just taking a pill. Remember the fact that stigma creates barriers to staying adherent to medication and add a host of other mental and social issues. I hear horror stories of how people hid their meds in over-the-counter bottles, take their meds in secret, or even suffer from behavioral health issues. I have even been open about my own chronic depression and PTSD, which can cause huge barriers socially and to medication adherence. It takes those who truly understand the nature and severity of what people living with HIV are going through to understand that it isn’t just like a antiretroviral HIV pill(s) can fix things. So much time is spent with a mental health professional and a medical provider always checking to makes sure things are well.

 

“Do you think I need to be tested?” IMG_9925 Only you can answer that question. I would say if you haven’t tested in 6-12 months and have been potentially exposed to HIV then yes you should. In addition, if your local health department has contacted you or Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) and they confirm you may have been exposed then testing would be advantageous.

 

“I was tested for HIV last year?”

IMG_6565 This is a tricky one. When I provide HIV counseling to many people who happen to be young and old alike I have to remind them of the window period, the need to frequently test, and the fact that based off of things like the amount of sex and number of partners may create the benefit of screening multiple times within a year (3-6 months). I tend to recommend HIV and STI testing every 3-6 months for folks who are highly sexually active

“Will you die?” IMG_7275

Chile boo. I am not going anywhere. As long as I take my meds as prescribed, go to my doctors visit, and live an overall holistic healthy lifestyle I will be just as old if not older than you. Yes! And so will you! I’m assuming most guys mean to ask; will you die due to HIV related causes? C’mon guys. Great strides have been made in enhancing treat and the lives of those living with the virus, and discovering out how to control it in order to live a full life. As long as a poz person stays in care and/or sticks to their medications then there’s hardly a reason that their lifespan is decreased BECAUSE of HIV.

 

“But you’re such a good person.” annoyed-2 Sooooo everyone else that has HIV are terrible people? No my friend HIV doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care which walk of life you come from. You could be the biggest sinner around or a total saint!  You could have a purse so heavy making Oprah dollars or dirt poor.  Keep your pre-conceived judgments to yourself.

 

 

 

“How did you get it?”annoyedgif

The same ways HIV is transmitted. Did you want some elaborate story? Well that depends on how comfortable the poz guy you’re talking to is up to sharing.

 

 

 

 

“Who gave it to you?” tumblr_m9ckn3wgDj1qfc8cw Again this is probably not your business and probably not the most comfortable conversation to have. Also, does it matter? If you’re worried about knowing who has “it,” and who doesn’t so you can know whom to avoid, then you probably should be taking other precautions. Like, I don’t know, talking about the matter with your intimate partners, condom use, and even PrEP?

 

“I prefer my guys clean.” not-mr-clean Hey good for you! Some like ’em clean, some like ’em smelly! STOP equating being negative to being clean! If negative is too difficult of a word to type out, use “neg,” maybe? It’s also only one syllable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m so sorry for you.”

tumblr_nlahy4GIv81rl3tufo4_r1_400 And I am so sorry that you are ignorant as hell. No one asked for apologies. Why? Who died? Is my dog okay? Dude, where’s my car? I kindly reject your invite to the pity party. Instead of feeling sorry or sad for me, you could try to support the HIV community by broadening your horizons and giving back. Educate yourself and start the conversation with your friends. I’m only sorry that people still cringe at the acronyms HIV and AIDS.

 

 

 

 

 

“Why does it always have to be the cute guys?” small-violin

Why does it have to be anyone at all? Why do folks think that HIV only goes after a certain look? Although certain populations are impacted greater than others anyone can be HIV-positive. It does not matter how you look, your socioeconomic status, the amount of followers or likes you have, or even if you identify as a top or bottom. Trust there are some positive tops out there.

 

 


 

Patrick Ingram and Adrian Castellanos are two awesome gay men of color living with HIV sharing their experiences.  Please share, spread the word, and continue to keep in touch with ThePozLife.com.  For media inquiries please contact Patrick@thepozlife.com

 

 

 


ViiV Healthcare Announces $10 Million Initiative to Accelerate Response to HIV/AIDS Among Black Gay and Bisexual Men

Initial Investment to Help Research, Identify and Apply Innovative Solutions in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi – Two of the Cities Hardest Hit by HIV/AIDS 


 Research Triangle Park, NC – February 4, 2015 – ViiV Healthcare today announced the launch of a four-year, $10 million initial investment to fuel a concerted community response to the HIV epidemic among Black Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi, two U.S. cities hard hit by HIV/AIDS. The goal for this new initiative named ACCELERATE!, is to help speed up community-driven solutions to increase access and engagement in supportive HIV care and services by Black MSM. ACCELERATE! aligns with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and its imperative to focus on communities most disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.

In recent years, there have been increased efforts to address health disparities and social drivers that contribute to the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Black communities. However, the data continue to tell the story of an enduring and persistent epidemic among Black Americans, and Black MSM in particular. A recent study in The Lancet found disparities across the HIV Care Continuum –

the series of steps from when a person is diagnosed with HIV through the successful treatment of their infection with HIV medications – with 1 in 3 Black MSM found to be HIV-positive, compared with less than 1 in 10 White MSM. The study also found just 24 percent of Black MSM stay in care and 16 percent achieve viral suppression, compared with 43 percent and 34 percent respectively for White MSM.[i] These devastating data, along with the stories of individuals, families and communities affected, mandate the urgent need for new, community-driven approaches and solutions.

“As we commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we are proud to announce our ACCELERATE! Initiative, conceived in collaboration with national and community partners to help address the toll HIV/AIDS continues to take on Black communities,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare. “It’s our ambition that this investment will help build innovative, community-driven solutions to help reduce the HIV epidemic among Black MSM, and strengthen services and communities to support them.”

The ACCELERATE! Initiative leverages what ViiV Healthcare has gleaned from a range of community stakeholders and builds on available insights, community dynamics, best practices, evaluative measures and the conditions that present persistent challenges in Baltimore and Jackson.

Consistent with other ViiV Healthcare-supported programs conducted over the last five years, this initiative began with a convening of a wide range of stakeholders. The Baltimore meeting was held at Johns Hopkins University and included community representatives, allies, state and local health officials, healthcare professionals and academic researchers. The Jackson meeting was held at the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Epidemiology and included a similar range of voices. These discussions, and other conversations with Black MSM and key stakeholders, confirmed the collective will and commitment to accelerating the response.

David Holtgrave, Ph.D., Professor, Department Chair, and Co-Director of the Center for Implementation Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, welcomes the ViiVHealthcare community innovation investment. “The disproportionate impact of HIV among Black MSM in our city is a truly urgent public health issue, and there are unmet public health needs that must rapidly be addressed. We welcome an accelerated response to HIV/AIDS in our own backyard, and appreciate this unique opportunity to participate in a discussion with our colleagues and friends in community organizations, health departments, other academic institutions and those with allied concerns, to help conceive, apply and evaluate innovative and evidence-based services so that we can urgently address this critical health disparity.

“Jackson, Mississippi has alarmingly high rates of HIV infection among young Black men; our city’s infection rates are among the highest in the country. We applaud ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to investing in innovative programs to reduce HIV/AIDS-related health disparities in Jackson. We believe that participation from the private sector is an important complement to our local efforts and programs to reduce these disparities,” said Leandro A. Mena, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease and Director, Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Policy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The first phase of the ACCELERATE! Initiative will include ethnographic research with Black MSM and community members to identify gaps, assets, challenges and priorities, along with an intensive mapping process. ViiV Healthcare is in discussions with academic centers in Baltimore and Jackson for the Initiative’s research, monitoring and evaluation activities. The insights obtained will help determine the right approach and inform the next phase of this initiative in the effort to reduce the HIV epidemic among Black MSM and affected communities, and strengthen the systems that support and sustain programs that work.

About ViiV Healthcare 
ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

A Review of 2014

Adrian C

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This year has been a big one for me. Firstly, in late march I learned my status as a positive person. A few months after, the caseworker that did my intake told me about the NMAC Youth Initiative. I applied and was awarded a scholarship to attend the conference in October. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by like-minded, young, professionals and individuals. While at the conference I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas, Patrick, and Benjamin. It was an honor to be brought on board to ThePozLife. After I returned home I had many ideas and seeds to plant for my community. In late October I met with the executive director of the Valley AIDS Council, James Judkins, and a caseworker to discuss some ideas I had for our area. One of those being to launch a support group targeted to but not exclusively for HIV positive people in the Rio Grande Valley: VPOS, Valley Peer Outreach and Support. VPOS is one of my projects for 2015 and I am eager to get that up and running strong for the New Year. I created a Grindr and Jack’D profile to conduct my own outreach and to answer any questions my community might have regarding HIV and resources in the Valley. I started these profiles early November and have received a positive, no pun intended response from the men in my area that have approached me. Through these outlets, I’ve been able to reference some of these men to testing centers and provide basic and detailed knowledge of the virus. On World AIDS Day, December first, I had the pleasure of attending our local AIDS Memorial Quilt presentation at the University of Texas Pan American and met a few more members of the Valley AIDS Council. Who presented me with a job opportunity as a Risk Reduction Specialist where I would be conducting HIV and STI screenings, providing counseling to members of the community that reach out to us, and conducting outreach activities. I’ve applied for the position and have made it to the final round of interviewing; I am anticipating a decision sometime early January. In looking forward to 2015 I have also applied for a scholarship to attend AIDS Watch in DC and am waiting for a response. You can learn more about AIDS Watch here: http://www.aidsunited.org/AIDSWatch-2015/Scholarship-Information.aspx
2014 has been such a roller coaster, sometimes difficult, but I’m happy to say that I not only survived, but thrived! I’m very excited to see what I can accomplish in 2015. Especially now with all that I’ve started and alongside the boys at ThePozLife.

Training

Patrick participating in youth-led session at 2014 USCA

Data

Reviewing the CDC’s HIV surveillance report for Texas in 2013.

USCA Youth Lounge

Hanging out in the Youth Lounge at 2014 USCA

Quilt

AIDS Memorial Quilt at The University of Texas Pan American on World AIDS Day.


Thomas Davis

This year has been HUGE for me! I am truly grateful for every experience I’ve had. I started the year releasing my video of me “coming out” as HIV positive. I wasn’t sure what it would look like to be openly living with HIV but I knew it was something I wanted to do. After sharing my video I attended YGBLI summit in Atlanta and connected with Patrick Ingram and Adrian Hobson. I then got more involved with Aids Project Los Angeles and their young men’s group Empowerment. As the year progressed Empowerment changed to R3VNG, which stands for Reshaping 3 letters for the Voices of the Now Generation. In addition to changing the name APLA also provided funding for R3VNG to create a talk show focused around HIV education and other issues that surround gay men of color. Towards the end of the year I attended USCA in San Diego as a Youth Ambassador, which was an AMAZING experience! At USCA The POZ Life team expanded to get a wider range of representation. After returning I worked on a project with Reach LA where I choreographed a dance that told a story about the struggle between two people to deal with HIV being introduced into their relationship. It’s the first piece in what I hope will be a series of creations centered on living with HIV.  I was also picked by The Human Rights Campaign as a youth ambassador and will be involved with them until 2016. This past December I spoke at an event for World Aids Day at the New Testament Church here in L.A. For the past few weeks I’ve been prepping to speak at Time To Thrive in Oregon at the start of 2015. Most recently I was featured in Healthline’s Portrait of HIV. Outside of my involvement with HIV I’ve spent the last year teaching at Lula Washington Dance Theater and training/touring with the professional company in preparation for their 35th anniversary in 2015. This past month I also started touring with a company called The Lucent Dossier Experience and did a performance in Las Vegas.

http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/portraits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm6f1PhG5eo&list=UUionyFnRXZVHQwv1gege_PQ

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/hrc-foundation-introduces-youth-ambassadors

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/more-than-numbers-adoption-foster-care-and-the-lgbt-community

http://www.bawn.tv/truthbtold/

Thomas and Patrick

Patrick and I at USCA

Rev

The boys of R3VNG

Thomas spirits Thomas


Benjamin Di’Costa: 

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One year ago this month I made a resolution that 2014 I would go “All Out”. Since then almost everything in my life has changed.

A year ago I was okay with the normal daily routine in the organization I worked for. Now everyday when I wake up for work I find myself all over again and pursue my passion every day. A year ago I was content with my life. Now I’m living a meaningful life.   A year ago I wasn’t speaking out, let alone blogging. Now I’m proud to be apart of ThePozLife, as well as other endeavors.  A year ago I had few people reading my words (other than some vapid work emails). Now I have over 100,000 active followers, and my work have been read by over half-a-million people in 151 countries this year.

A year ago no one was interested in following me on Twitter or Facebook or Google+. Now I have over 10,000+ people who interact with me via those platforms.

A year ago my inspirations were Angelina Jolie, Laverne Cox, Pedro Zamora, Janet Mock, and others like them. And I’m still inspired by them. A year later I’ve been in meetings guys, been featured on international websites, and established organizational relationships with them and dozens of similar people who have helped shaped the lives of those living with HIV in meaningful way.

A year ago I hadn’t presented anything. Now I’ve presented 20 presentations: 5 abstracts, Facilitated 2 nationwide panel discussions, and featured on 3 magazine covers.

A year ago I had a spreadsheets full of goals, and I would beat myself up when I didn’t achieve those goals. Now I live with one goal at a time.

A year ago we strived to make everything perfect. Now we embrace the imperfection of my daily life.

A year ago I was a dorky guy living in South Florida. Now I’m given the opportunity to travel the country and meet young advocates like myself and collaborate with the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I’ve given away hundreds of free hugs on this tour so far.

A year ago there was a considerable amount of discontent in our lives. Now I’m happy, and when we I look in the rearview mirror everything is different.

A REASON FOR THESE STATS?

I’m not trying to impress you with my “accomplishments.” Rather, I want to impress upon you the power of a year. As human beings, we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a short period of time (e.g., six-pack abs in two weeks), but we drastically underestimate what we can accomplish in a year or two.

Most of the above mentioned “accomplishments” weren’t goals I developed at the beginning of the year. They just happened, organically, as we worked hard to add value to other people’s lives. Thus, I’ve discovered that when we add value to other people’s lives, everything else tends to fall into place. The big life changes don’t happen overnight. Give yourself some time. Put in a lot of effort and keep at it. You’ll be surprised with what can happen in a year.


IMG_4993

Patrick Ingram and Ryane Hill at the 4th Annual ADAP Leadership Awards

Patrick

2014 has been a year of progression, beauty, success, and identity. This year started with trying to discover a way of growing PozLifeofPatrick to be faithful to my goals from my resolutions for 2014. After the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative’s 2014 Policy and Advocacy Summit I discovered how that would look. PozLifeofPatrick took the necessary steps and evolved to ThePoz+Life.

IMG_4521

“Sexy, smart and HIV+” exhibition in Zagreb, Croatia.

By bringing on the unique personalities and positive attributes of others living and affected by HIV we are now able to reach places we have not been before. At this year’s USCA we asked the tough questions, networked, educated people on what we do, and really worked alongside other young people to have our needs and issues addressed. At the ViiV Community Summit in Miami, FL we learned about the great community work ViiV Healthcare does, new information on advancements in the work to end the HIV epidemic, and the work that is taking place in our communities. We were apart of their 1st Youth Summit were we refined our leadership skills, fellowshipped with other great young leaders and influencers, and gained new collaborations which will start in 2015.

In 2015 we look forward to working alongside great organizations, projects and individuals who are ready to see the end of the HIV epidemic. Personally, I am very excited to have been able to represent the many Young Black Gay Men living with HIV through a variety many projects. They took the form of filming a commercial, interviews, magazine features, Op-Ed pieces, being apart of “Black Voices,” and even being featured in a photo exhibition aboard. This year has been full of challenges as I have continued to battle depression and PTSD, working full-time, being a full-time student, having people relying on me as a primary source of support, managing the newly formed ThePozLife, and trying to live my own personal life. Although there were many challenges trying to balance all of these responsibilities the rewards have been fruitful and the fact that I can touch and connect with people who are both HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative continues to speaks volumes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.41.39 PM

In 2015 I have a few request.

  • Let’s focus on not always bragging about what we do but instead give your platform to someone else for five minutes
  • Seek self-improvement and self-development
  • Give back through volunteering and donating to causes specific to one’s you are affected by
  • Stop being selfish and collaborate with others, also support social justice movements that realistically impact us all
  • Share the work of ThePozLife and always keep us in your prayers and thoughts

The most important piece of this all is to understand that regardless of how you feel or think that your voice and lived experiences does matter!

 

See you at NAESM in January!

Positivity is everything

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from ThePoz+Life Team! We are thankful for all of those who have supported us since we started in 2011 and we are excited for what is to come!

Make sure to also follow us on:
@ThePozLife

ThePoz+Life Facebook

#PositivityIsEverything

WORLD AIDS DAY 2014: CALL TO ACTION LIVE

As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.So ThePoz+Life is calling for everyone to join us on November 29th at 1:00 PM EST via Google Hangout, YouTube, or ThePozLife.com for, ThePozLife: Nationwide Call to Action for World AIDS Day! For this to be successful we need you to share with your social networks, organizations and other news platforms.
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ViiV Healthcare Expands Program to Reduce HIV Disparities in Southern U.S.

Congratulations to the grant awardees that will be able to do additional work to improve the barriers and disparities communities in the south face when it comes to HIV&AIDS.  More information can be found below in the official press release.


Positive Action Southern Initiative Commitment Continues with New Grants Awarded to Seven Organizations, Bringing Total Funding for Grassroots Projects to More than 2.8 Million to Date

 

Research Triangle Park, NC – October 20, 2014 – ViiV Healthcare today announced seven Positive Action Southern Initiative grant awardees in Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi for programs focused on reducing disparities in HIV/AIDS linkages to care and treatment among at-risk populations in their communities.  Recipients will receive up to $50,000 per year for a provisional commitment over the next two years to support the following programs:

  • Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their Linkage to Treatment program and enhance the reach and depth of their services to HIV positive individuals.
  • Brotherhood, Inc., located in New Orleans, LA, will expand their work to address the needs of HIV positive African American transgender persons and men who have sex with men (MSM) who are recently released from prison.
  • Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge, located in Baton Rouge, LA, will enhance their work to address gaps in services for HIV positive individuals recently released from prison.
  • Grace House, Inc., located in Jackson, MS, will expand its supportive services to homeless Mississippians living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • My Brother’s Keeper, Inc., located in Ridgeland, MS, will fill gaps in their current services by expanding HIV prevention and research programs for African American MSM to include case management.
  • SisterLove, Inc., located in Atlanta, GA, will enhance their “Everyone Has A Story” (EHAS) program through a series of trainings/webinars to build the capacity and skills of peer advocates, staff, and volunteers.
  • Someone Cares Inc. of Atlanta, located in Atlanta, GA, will improve their Transforming, Renewing and Unifying Transgender Health Project (TRUTH) intervention to support transgender women of color.

Since its launch in 2010, the Positive Action Southern Initiative has helped to enable effective interventions and quality services to fight HIV in Southern states.  In addition to receiving funding, grantees also become part of the Southern Initiative Network, a resource that supports grantees and grantee finalists through networking activities, including opportunities to share lessons learned with one another and with other community experts. This collaborative network has now grown to include 32 organizations working together to share effective strategies for addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis in the South.

“The Positive Action Southern Initiative is a direct reflection of our commitment to working together with the community to improve outcomes for those populations disproportionately affected by HIV, and we continue to be impressed by the innovative ideas and strong results put forth by the Network,” said Bill Collier, Head of North America, ViiV Healthcare.  “With round six of the program, we’re proud to continue funding effective community-based initiatives, which are essential to meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and reducing HIV-related disparities in the Southern United States.”

Designed to address the gaps in care and treatment documented through the Gardner Cascade[i], the Positive Action Southern Initiative reflects the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy by directing resources to areas and populations that have the greatest need. The Southern United States is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, representing 45 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses.[ii]

“The Southern AIDS Coalition and the Positive Action Southern Initiative were born of the same purpose – to effectively address the disparate impact of HIV on the Southern United States,” said Rainey Campbell, Executive Director of the Southern AIDS Coalition. “We’ve seen how the Southern Initiative supports on-the-ground interventions and collaboration to influence meaningful change across communities in our region.  Expansion of the program helps achieve our shared goals by providing further access to high-quality prevention, treatment and care services in order to reduce new infections and improve quality of life for people living with HIV in the South.”

With particular focus on reducing disparities among African-American and Latino populations, the Positive Action Southern Initiative currently operates in 10 Southern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, representing 68 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses in 2011, with new infection rates highest among African-American adults and adolescents. [iii]

These health disparities are particularly prevalent in the Southern U.S. In Georgia, 55 percent of new HIV diagnoses were among African Americans in 2012, despite comprising only 31 percent of the population in the state.[iv],[v]  In Louisiana, 69 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 74 percent of newly diagnosed AIDS cases were among African Americans in 2013, though African Americans make up only 32 percent of Louisiana’s overall population.[vi]  In Mississippi, where the highest rate of HIV infections were among African Americans and Hispanics (37 and 13 per 100,000 persons, respectively), African Americans accounted for 75 percent of newly reported HIV infections in 2012, and their rate of infection was six times higher than the rate among Whites.[vii]

About ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action Program The Southern Initiative is part of ViiV Healthcare’s broader Positive Action program that has empowered community organizations in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia over the past 22 years. As a company focused solely on HIV/AIDS, ViiV Healthcare is committed to building on the success of the global program with efforts to support projects in the United States that address areas of greatest need.

When Positive Action was created in 1992 it was the first pharmaceutical company program of its kind to support communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The program targets its funds towards community-focused projects that reach those most affected by HIV, particularly in marginalized or vulnerable populations. These include youth, women and girls, sex workers, injection drug users, MSM, the incarcerated, transgender individuals and gay men. Positive Action works to build capacity in these communities to enable them to tackle stigma and discrimination, to test innovations in education, care and treatment, and to deliver greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.

For more information about Positive Action, please visit: http://www.viivhealthcare.com/community-partnerships/positive-action/about.aspx

 

About ViiV Healthcare  

ViiV Healthcare is a global specialist HIV company established in November 2009 by GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV. Shionogi joined as a shareholder in October 2012. The company’s aim is to take a deeper and broader interest in HIV/AIDS than any company has done before and take a new approach to deliver effective and new HIV medicines, as well as support communities affected by HIV. For more information on the company, its management, portfolio, pipeline, and commitment, please visit www.viivhealthcare.com.

[i] Gardner EM, McLees, MP, Steiner JF, del Reio, C.  The Spectrum of Engagement in HIV Care and its Relevance to Test-and-Treat Strategies for Prevention of HIV Infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2011; 52 (6): 793-800. 

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV and AIDS in the United States by Geographic Distribution. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/geographic.htm.  Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance by Race/Ethnicity (through 2011). http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/pdf/statistics_surveillance_raceEthnicity.pdf. Accessed August 26, 2014.

[iv] The Georgia Department of Public Health.  Fact Sheet: HIV Surveillance, Georgia, 2012. http://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/HIV_EPI_Fact_Sheet_Surveillance_2012.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[v] United States Census Bureau.  State & County Quick Facts. Georgia. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13000.html.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vi] Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, STD/HIV Program (SHP). Louisiana HIV/AIDS Surveillance Quarterly Report, June 30, 2014. http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/oph/HIVSTD/hiv-aids/2014/Second_Quarter2014.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

[vii] Mississippi State Department of Health. HIV Disease 2012 Fact Sheet.  http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/5070.pdf.  Accessed September 18, 2014.

U.S. Media Inquiries Marc Meachem (919) 483-8756

The Poz Life Live

Check out our last show where we discuss grieving and HIV.

A Perfect Introduction

IMG_1223We would like to welcome Adrian Castellanos to ThePozLife!  Thomas and I were blown away by Adrian’s drive, ambition, determination, and advocacy efforts at USCA 2014 and we found it necessary to bring him onboard.  We feel as if he will be a great voice for the Latino community, youth and individuals affected by HIV.  For more information on Adrian check him out here.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and agreed to join alongside us in our goal to spread awareness and decrease stigma.

-Patrick

The Poz Life Presents: Grieving with HIV

Many times when a individual is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and they divulge their status to friends and family they quickly become more concerned with the emotions that their friends and family are experiencing instead of taking the time to focus on themselves first. Because of this people living with HIV/AIDS never heal and can become depressed because of the emotions they are holding in. This can affect their mental state, affect their relationships and other areas of their lives. In order to not only become healthy physically but emotionally and mentally as well, those living with HIV/AIDS must go through a process that allows them to accept their status, allows them to be angry, to cry or experience any other emotion/feeling they may need to. We decided that this was a very important topic to discuss and so please join us for our live show tonight at 7 pm as we talk about the importance of Grieving with HIV!!!!! Feel free to ask question via Twitter @thepozlife or use #grievingwithhiv or #thepozlife on Facebook!!!!!

Greiving with HIV

Three Years of Knowing My HIV Positive Status

10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_oThis December 1st, it will be three years since I learned about my positive HIV status. Since then, the journey hasn’t always been easy. I have experienced successes and challenges—but I am always learning. During my days of being newly diagnosed, dealing with mental illness, contemplating suicide, and, letting others stand in the way of my true happiness, kept me from being comfortable in my own skin. After countless visits with my therapist and having better support from those around me, I decided to start the process of disclosing my status through storytelling online. Despite my own difficulties, I have chosen to be open about my status and by using new media and public speaking, I believe I am helping to fight stigma. By showing people what it looks like to live with HIV, I am using my journey to amplify the voices of others like me. (This process may not work or be appropriate for everyone.)

Disclosure

While many people choose to keep their status private, my positive HIV status is something that I openly share. Telling people that I’m HIV-positive is not the hard part–I can simply send them a text or direct them to my blog Exit Disclaimer or YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. The most difficult part for me is waiting for their response, because that’s the time I start second guessing if I should have revealed myself in the first place. But by speaking out, I have found who Patrick Ingram is. I am proud of him and I am proud of his journey.

The journey is not easy at all because having to deal with rejection and absurd reactions from others come with the territory. I face many uphill battles of having to explain what it is like living with HIV in today’s technological age to sexual partners, friends, colleagues, family members, and other loved ones. Disclosure for me is always tricky because there is never a perfect way of doing it. The easiest way for me is to share my blog or just pose a question like, “I am HIV-positive, is that an issue with you?”

The waiting game for a written, facial, or verbal response is always the most anxious part of the entire process for me. Some have questions and some block me on social media and never speak to me again. What I have learned that if someone is not comfortable being around me because of my HIV status, then they were not mature or worthy enough to really get a chance to know who Patrick is. My newly found confidence, love for myself, and growth as an individual has helped for me to continue to live openly.

The Power of Friendship

Having friends who love and support me has been an important part of my experience of living with HIV. My relationships have renewed my faith in the power of vulnerability; because I know those relationships would not have blossomed if I were not open and honest. Once I shared my fears, it was life changing to be able to place my trust in friends who did not change the way they interacted with me. In fact, having my best friend, Davia, say she loved me and that she would be my biggest cheerleader helped me get my life back on track. It’s wonderful to be able to be who you are. My friends remind me that I am not alone. With them, I can speak freely and feel a sense of normalcy–and I know they are on my side.

A Guiding Hand

Experience has taught me that having a guiding hand is valuable not only for my own journey, but also for addressing the challenges that the Black LGBTQ community faces. I am fortunate to have many inspirational mentors in my life–from a very good friend who helps me to reflect on my experiences, to an elder letting me cry on his shoulder and vent my frustrations. Prior to becoming HIV positive, I had one mentor, Calvin who constantly checked on me and empowered me to be the best person I can be. He was one of the first people to know my positive status on December 1st (World AIDS Day) and continues to keep in touch with me to ensure that I am taking care to ensure I take the necessary steps to keep the virus in check. Calvin and my other awesome mentors in my life are amazing in ensuring the journey is less of a struggle than a hardship.

I have also recognized that the work of organizations such as the Young Black Gay Leadership InitiativeAIDS.gov, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer Youth Initiative to End HIV/ AIDS in America, National Youth HIV&AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer, and individuals in communities have provided a lot of support to gender and sexual minorities of color. For example, the Elite Project in Birmingham, Alabama Exit Disclaimer is a safe drop-in center for the LGBTQ community in an otherwise conservative southern city. This center provides prevention services, entertainment, intellectual conversations, professional and personal development, and–most important–a place to be one’s true self. Centers such as the Elite Project are needed in every community across our nation to provide the same support, friendship, and mentorship that has helped me get through.

Taking the time to reflect on my journey since learning of my status is an important part of my experience living with HIV. Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about myself and about living with HIV. Disclosing my HIV status has been difficult at times, but the support of friends, family, and the community has been very valuable in my journey.

I hope my reflections and story can inspire others to support people they know who are living with HIV and, for those with HIV to remember that they are not alone. For now, my goals are to: continue my daily work to educate others; break down the stigma by speaking out; serve as a resource for people who are newly diagnosed; educate myself more on issues that affect the Black community; and continue to seek self-improvement.

For the original piece on AIDS.gov click here

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/09/three-years-of-knowing-my-positive-hiv-status.html#sthash.e4xr7zsD.dpuf