This post is based on an online interview form submitted by Michael on December 11, 2012.
Tell us about yourself. My name is Michael and I live in the city of Philadelphia. I am 54 years old and appreciate the great family that God has given me. At this point in my life, I am enjoying being retired. Most of my time is spent giving back to society. At this present time, I volunteer for many agencies in the Philadelphia that help individuals with prevention, awareness, and education around HIV/AIDS. I have many hobbies and interests, such as: trusting and believing in God, reading, traveling, serving the community, helping those in need, writing poetry, tutoring, and much more.
What made you get involved in the HIV/AIDS community? I got involved in the HIV/AIDS community when I tested positive for the virus. First, I had to educate myself before giving back to the community. My counseling message to the affected & infected population is to encourage male or female condom use during sexual activity, emphasize the importance of being adherent if taking HIV medications, discuss importance of STD screenings and treatment, and partner testing & treatment, emphasize importance of adhering to ART to reduce viral load and increase CD4 count & being open to having a honest conversation around knowing your partner history and using protection every time.
Who do you look up to or admire? The person I admire the most is God. He gives me grace and new mercy every morning.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing people living with HIV/AIDS? The biggest challenge facing people living with HIV/AIDS is staying linked to care, and the stigma around the virus.
If you found out your friend was recently diagnosed with HIV, what would you tell him/her? If I found out that one of my friends tested HIV positive, I would tell them it is no longer a death sentence. You can live a long healthy life through treatment.
This post is part of our World AIDS Day blog series celebrating the Philadelphia-area HIV/AIDS community. To share your own story, please submit an original post to HIVPhillyWebmaster@gmail.com or fill out an interview form.