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New Year New Us! 3 Challenges for People Living With HIV for This Year

By Patrick Ingram

January 14, 2014

So, bringing in 2014 there will be many of our loved ones, friends, family, colleagues and strangers who will be ready to begin their New Year Resolutions in hopes of completing them all by the end of the year. Let's be honest though, who ever completes every single New Year's resolution? This year I plan to do something different that I think will be successful and I invite you all to do the same.

I often tell people that my HIV diagnosis two years ago involved me going through a sort of metamorphosis. During this process I evolved as a person, on very physical, emotional and spiritual levels that were all for good. I saw things more clearly and made a point to go forward with any dreams I had. Can anyone relate? As an 18 year old in high school I wanted to do it all. From an officer in the United States Coast Guard, a professional tennis player, entertainer, author, a business owner and married to the most perfect partner with the most phenomenal family. I honestly wanted to have it all. As time went on and my dream of not making it in the military and my tennis lacking success, I began not to day dream as much about those potentials. Days that were once spent always day dreaming about my potential future became replaced with more "realistic ideas," that were more fitting of survival in this world. When I was diagnosed with HIV my life flashed before my eyes. Like I talk about in one of my first videos I could have easily not have opted to test for HIV. By not testing my plan was to remain in denial for the rest of my life. Due to this life-changing event I made a choice to look at all of my dreams again and find ways to make them happen.

How is this relevant many of you may ask? Well it is simple. As Brian Litrell says, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." I looked at ways I can give back to my community (advocating and speaking out about different things that negatively affect it). Although there are policies that prevent me from serving in the military there is hope, and we should definitely continue to pressure Congress and the Department of Defense in allowing individuals living with HIV to serve their country. I also started playing a tennis league and also starting to look for opportunities like using YouTube for my video blogging, singing and other projects like the MTV documentary to entertain individuals from around the world. In 2014 I will also be focusing time on my book and creating a line of products I hope you all will enjoy.


I think it is important that we all reach out for our dreams and wants, no matter what they are. Illnesses or even failure should not keep us from fighting for what we want. If we pray on our dreams, continue to work on them, and have affirmations then they will happen. Affirmations are very important and Dr. Harra explains this very well in her Huffington Post article. Even if you are completing them at 50% that is better than never thinking you can.

My three challenges for you all this year are very simple:

  1. Be there for others because there is always room to do more in this department. Even by giving a friend a hug, a text during the day saying you are thinking of them, a nice thank you message to your boss (even if they are incompetent), and even saying congratulations or liking a comment of a rival are ways you can be there for others. Volunteering your time or even donating to an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) or Community Based Organization (CBO) can be a way to give back. A database of such organizations can be found here.
  2. Patching up issues with adversaries. This is something that is very hard for me. This will be tough for me because I may forgive about the past but never forget, which can affect my actions. We should learn how to forgive people for what they do and say. No one is perfect so apologies are definitely fitting. Our egos can be huge barriers at times where reconciliation can take place.
  3. Personal Growth can take place is so many different forms. This can be traveling more, taking more vacations, learning a new skill, making new friends, soul searching, and even getting to a place where you can be more open about your HIV status. Personal growth can also include things professionally. There is always room for self-improvement and we should always look at ways to better ourselves.

These three simple things can reach literally every goal people make each year. I also think that to be able to accomplish these goals we have to have more realistic expectations. A perfect example is how in the first of the year gyms see an increase of activity that soon tapers off by February/March. By easing into to being physically active and going to the gym on a more consistent basis you start off small with goals like going at least 3 times a week for an hour or so, and then increasing it weekly with an additional day until you are going at a frequency that balances out in your everyday life. Writing my book has seriously resulted in nothing ever happening past a few sentences a quarter; however, now I will dedicate a few minutes out of the day to brainstorm and write a few things. The following month I will increase my writing to something more consistent and realistic to completing by the end of the year. Fixing interpersonal issues can take place with exes, ex-friends, lack of a father-son relationship, etc. They may not be enemies but I think that working on improving communication and ending conflicts helps to relieve stress and drama in one's life.

In 2014 will you work on reaching the moon by having reasonable expectations and progress that will take place over time? Or will you rush into something head on, burn out and give up halfway through? Again HIV does not mean we cannot accomplish our dreams, so we must make sure that we don't give up if we hit a brick wall. Breaking through that wall and overcoming our fears and anxieties about such possibilities will result in us having success on some level.

In this New Year and beyond it is important to simply do what is best for you. Also, keeping in mind that this also includes doing what is needed to manage your HIV and all other outside sources that may influence it. If anyone has issues with you or the healthier choices you are making to better yourself, then be the fabulous person you are and keep on strutting into the future!

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See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
More Advice on Coping With HIV/AIDS

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Patrick Ingram

Patrick Ingram

Patrick is a gay African-American male who is living with HIV. Patrick was diagnosed December 1, 2011 (World AIDS Day). Never the kind of individual to accept defeat, he has worked hard to spread awareness, education, resources and support to his community. By using his blog, his YouTube channel, and working alongside the Northern Virginia Gay Men's Health Collaborative and the Fredericksburg Area HIV AIDS Support Services (FAHASS), Patrick has worked hard to empower youth and people of color to know their HIV status and take steps to continue to care for themselves (positive or negative).

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Other Articles and Videos by Patrick:

My Letter to HIV: A Letter From Patrick Ingram

Day One With HIV: "A Shadow Came Over My Head" (Videos)

What About Black LGBT Pride?

My Greatest Fears

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