Virginia: HIV Survivor Is Telling His Story With Postcards
April 3, 2012
More than 25 years after being diagnosed HIV-positive at the age of 23, Mike Bennett is helping others by telling his story through a new postcard campaign launched by the Eastern Virginia AIDS Network (EVAN).
The "I am EVAN" campaign shows that HIV does not discriminate, said Executive Director Shelley Taylor-Donahue. EVAN is a nonprofit supplying free HIV testing, as well as assistance and education for those living with the virus in the area comprising Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore, and Northern Neck.
Taylor-Donahue notes the area's transient population heightens its risk, and that an estimated 7,000 locals are HIV-positive.
Bennett recounts three molestations by the age of 13, family strife caused by struggling with his sexual orientation, drug abuse, numerous stints in jail, and losing three lovers to AIDS between 1989 and 2000 before deciding to reclaim his life.
"When people got diagnosed with HIV at that time, it was like a death sentence," said Bennett, who takes three pills a day to stay well. "Today there is treatment for HIV and that's a blessing."
"I'm starting a new life now and doing things I never thought would be possible when I first got diagnosed," added Bennett. In addition to entrepreneurial pursuits in residential cleaning, Bennett attends Tidewater Community College and plans to work to help former felons post-release.
For more information, visit http://evanva.org.
03.29.2012; Devorah Ben-David
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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