March 27, 2012
Giving honor to God in gratitude for this now moment, and acknowledging the presence of those spirits who have crossed over to the other side of life in order to guide and protect us, I introduce myself to you. My name is Reggie Smith. I am an author, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, radio/tv personality, recovering addict, and a passionate, informed advocate for living well with HIV and hepatitis C (hep C). My wife, Dionne, and I know that we are greater than AIDS because we have been living well with HIV and hep C since 1985. I was diagnosed with HIV and hep C in 1988 when we got pregnant with our youngest son (at the time she had two children from a previous marriage, and I had one). Through God's grace and mercy Dionne remains HIV negative to this day, and we are still married. She is my hero.
We have four grown children, four grandchildren (with grandtwins on the way), and have been blessed with the abundant love of many family members and friends. Through our many interactions in our minority communities, we have realized how little focus is put on issues dealing with being heterosexual and living with HIV. There is not enough emphasis on creating an atmosphere that is conducive to honesty and wellness when it comes to serodiscordant relationships and heterosexual men and women of color.
It is finally evident to everyone that stigma is fueling the proliferation of the virus. In the heterosexual community, fear of being identified as being a same-gender-loving person still causes those prone to homophobia to hide the truth about their HIV and hep C status, or more dangerously, live in fear of even being tested! We need more heterosexual couples to share their strength, hope and experiences with the world so that we can all be inspired to change those destructive patterns that are contributing to our demise.
As a heterosexual man of color living with AIDS and hep C, I am aware of the level of homophobia that exists in my community. I DO NOT subscribe to those fears in any way, and will continue to spread love and information in an attempt to dispel those fears, while promoting healing. Seperation is an illusion. We are all connected by the spirit. Love heals all!
There is, however, a void that needs to be filled if we are to effectively stem the tide of proliferation of the virus. The data shows that there is a statistical anomaly in the HIV rates in the U.S. as it pertains to African-American women and girls, so it would be irresponsible if we did not, as a community, place the proper emphasis on addressing the potential causes for the irrationally high rate of infections via heterosexual contact.
Dionne and I have been blessed beyond measure, but we know we can't keep these blessings unless we give them away. That is a paradox of life, and in this blog we pray to engage the flow of life! It has not always been this way, and we have not always been publicly honest about our situation. We have, however, experienced great healing and blessings as a result of sharing freely these great blessings with the world.
Here in this blog I will do some writing, but given the opportunity, I will share audio/video content focused on spiritual, emotional, and physical WELLNESS, self/community AWARENESS, and RECOVERY from destructive addictive patterns (W.A.R.). I do interviews and share information and resources with the intent to promote wellness.
I had the honor of speaking at the United States Conference on AIDS in 2010, and attended in 2011. Dionne and I are featured in Greater Than AIDS' "Deciding Moments" national campaign. We work with many local, national and international churches, schools and organizations to spread the word of hope and prevention. We are members of Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, Ga., and have been spiritually influenced by many.
I have been deeply gratified by the opportunities that we get to share information and stories with people who are living with or at risk of contracting HIV. My message to everyone is how important it is that "we participate in our own survival/salvation, or else we will most certainly be complicit in our own demise"! Dionne's message is that "no one is a victim," meaning that in 2012 (unless you have been raped), EVERYONE should protect themselves from infection -- and condoms (seem to) work!
When you think about it though, many of us are imprisoned by our need for love. As a result, we render ourselves as powerless as a rape victim when it comes to contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/hep C. Our need for love and acceptance often fuels our denial of the truth that no matter our status (married, single, rich, poor, race, religion, etc.) we are all eligible to become a host for this virus if we ignore the need to avoid the behaviors that put us at risk. Like the great philosopher Bob Marley sang, "emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds."
HIV is not a moral issue, it is biological. Viruses and retroviruses are simply looking for the most vulnerable host, and our immune systems are our last line of defense. As a result of environmental toxins, lack of nutrition, stress, and ineffective behaviors, some of us are more likely to become the host for these viruses that then feed on our bodies by breaking us down spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and ultimately physically. We are at WAR, and to approach it any other way is ludicrous at best, and suicidal at its core.
Our WAR movement is dedicated to testing, education, prevention and personal responsibility. Many of our families' emotional needs surrounding HIV are not addressed while treating the person who is infected. We are all affected by HIV. We have been blessed with healing solutions that have been effective in treating HIV/AIDS. We are prepared to share them with our world community.
I live in the solution. I have been blessed to be gifted with information and experience that I willingly share with anyone that is interested. More important, I want to be a vessel of His word, and an instrument of Her will. My e-magazine RISE4WAR and my personal site ReggieSmith770 are focused on solutions and people living in them. I'm interested in enhacing the quality of our lives and sharing love. I am honored to bring some of that content to you here in TheBody.com. I pray you find this blog enlightening and inspirational! As we say in the places I hang out -- "KEEP COMING BACK!!"
"We have to participate in our own survival, or we will most certainly be complicit in our own demise."
"I enjoy watching the adventure of life unfold."
"It's one thing to play the role, and another to let the role play you!"
"Sometimes I don't want to use a condom, and sometimes my wife Dionne doesn't want to use a condom -- but we both don't get stupid at the same time."
"Separation is an illusion. We are all affected. Love heals all."