January 2, 2014
So, I know many of you have wondered where I've been. Well, a phenomenal year of amazing events and opportunities has opened up for PozLifeofPatrick and me. These opportunities would not have happened without others seeing my potential and giving me a chance.
On December 18, 2012, I created the blog to chronicle my life living with HIV and to provide opportunities for others to lend their voices. Being open with my status allows me to help educate others, break down stigma, and break the silence that so many of my positive brothers and sisters live in. Many living with HIV lay in silence because of the fear of stigma and discrimination based off of their status. I have worked very hard and seen success in my mission to decrease stigma and increase understanding around this virus that affects so many. On the other end of the very sharp double-edged sword I continue to see a lack of understanding and openness to HIV, even more prevalent in my dating life. Call me strange or too young for love, but throughout this year I helplessly made myself vulnerable in an effort to try to find a significant person to be in my life. As I approach 2014, I can report and say that at this moment in time I am very much single; however, my priorities have changed.
Being able to start my new career in the non-profit sector is where everything started. I was able to interact with many individuals through community HIV outreach, education and testing. Also, working with NMAC's Youth Initiative to End HIV/AIDS in America, and the HIV-positive Leadership Working Group of its National HIV Health Literacy and Wellness Initiative. This year I was also given the opportunity featured alongside another fabulous HIV advocate, Guy Anthony on Blackmenrise.org, where we talk about about our lives in more detail. Through NMAC's Youth Initiative I was able to travel to New Orleans for USCA 2013. There, I learned more about HIV and those who are affected by it, networked with so many different individuals and organizations, moderated a discussion on storytelling and HIV, made new allies/friends and overall took away an amazing invaluable and indescribable experience.
Throughout this year I was also able to be brought on as the testing coordinator to the Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services (FAHASS), where, with the help of a dedicated prevention team, helped to test, diagnose and link more individuals to care then we ever have. With being given a special grant called CAPUS, we will be able to reach more affected populations to educate, test and link any individual who is HIV-positive into care.
Also, I was featured alongside other youth in an MTV Staying Alive Documentary, My Sex Life and Everyone Else's. This documentary may not have been rainbows and butterflies for me, but it gives me a stage to continue the dialogue of what it is like to live with HIV and deal with the struggle to get out of the stages of grief and guilt. Looking back now I can honestly say that I am light years away from that period in my life.
Other highlights of my year were running the Marine Corps Marathon and Anthem Richmond Marathon back-to-back, and helping to raise almost $20,000 for the Grassroots Project's Team Grassroots. Also, working with ACCESS AIDS in the Hampton Roads region to help further the discussion that needed to take place to people of color.
There are many things that I can rant on about but I already feel like folks may think that I am being narcissistic; however, this is more about showing people that if I can do this in one year then why can't you, a community, or a nation. I have said it before but I am serious about making PozLifeofPatrick more about others in 2014. I started the process of having my live show, PozLifeLive, where I bring on others to share their stories, experiences and work for the world. Also, by opening up my blog for others to share it gives the opportunity to have an even greater experience when you visit my website or channel.