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A Longtime HIV Survivor on Public Health, Private Health and Spiritual Wellness

Part Two of a Two-Part Interview With Jeffery A. Haskins -- Part of the Series This Positive Life

January 21, 2014

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What are you doing health-wise?

Health-wise, self-care is the hardest part. Because AIDS: working in this field, or working in any service-oriented field, we take care of everybody else when we don't take care of ourselves. I am now; there have been some issues to force me to take care of myself. And so I have to pace myself. My mentor bishop always says, "Pace yourself."

I suffer from anxiety, so I'm hyper. So sitting still and all of that, my mind races. And I'm an artist, too. So my imagination and my mind race a thousand miles a minute. They're always creating new projects in my head, and I'll just be going, "I ain't writing that down. We can't do all that!"

But I have to learn how to work with people. So the project might come from me, I can be the conceiver, but I always have to be the implementer. I need to work with the team. Because everybody brings their skill, and they may have a better skill than me. I don't have to do it all. That's the problem in America: We think we have to do it all. You have to be the individual, and you gotta be the strongest, and you gotta know it, and you gotta get it all done. And you stress yourself out, and burn out.

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No. You need help, and you need collaboration. Again, you need a collaborative working of folks to get the job done. And you need to divide that pie into 12 pieces; you need 12 -- Christ had 12 -- and you give each one an assignment: "Peter, I'm going to build Church on you. John, you gonna be the beloved one. You gonna show them how to just be loving. You're best at that. Thomas, you doubt; so I'm going to prove you wrong. So you go out there and tell people, 'Don't be doubting.' Get me evidence." You know, and He had each one. "Matthew and Mark and Luke, and the others -- and John, too -- you all gonna be writing the stories." You know what I mean? "Peter, you gonna write some, too. But you ain't gonna write that much, because you gonna be doing administration of the organization. So you ain't gonna have all of that time, writing; but you gonna write the policy. It's gonna be short, but it's going to be succinct. So your little two books in there is policy." You know?

And then, "Matthew, Mark and Luke: You all are gonna record the history, the history of when I was here. That's y'all's story. And then, John, I'm going to give you a vision of what it's gonna look like. So you gonna get that in Revelations, so the people will know what's coming."

And so, we also have the ones in the future who can see that we need this, for when we get down that line. Those are strategic planners.

"So, John, you're the beloved one." You gotta have a beloved one that can get along with everybody, that can pull it together. "You're the organizer. So, for the future, it's going to keep us going, keep our agency, and keep our lives. And you're going to keep yourself healthy. We gonna all be healthy tomorrow. But right now, right here, in the present time we gonna build this thing off this rock. And that's Peter's job to do." You know?

And then Paul's job was to come along after they all, and Christ, were gone and just keep taking out the messages. Send them out; send them out. They're the word people, to take it in, to get the message to the street. They're working and telling everybody. Those are the outreach workers.

So I see where spirituality, Church, institutions, whether it's the ASO or CBO or FBO, or if it's a policy and advocacy organization, or if it's fund development, or fundraisers, or consultants, or everything -- we need everybody at the table to get this job done.

"This is the first time I've ever said it with such passion, that I hear myself saying it: I really believe that HIV/AIDS will be ended in my lifetime, just as well as I believed that there would be a black president elected in 2008."

And I believe in my lifetime -- and this is the first time I've ever said it with such passion, that I hear myself saying it: I really believe that HIV/AIDS will be ended in my lifetime, just as well as I believed that there would be a black president elected in 2008; that I believe he will be reelected in 2012 [knocks wood]. That's what I believe.

I believe we have the power to make change as we did from that last election. He's made great changes. And I believe we have the power. We have a National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We have an Affordable Care Act. And we have a jobs bill that they're stalling. If he can get back in there and get that jobs bill passed, just like he did with, whatever you want to call it, Obamacare, well, then people will be working. But the people that are unemployed need to vote, and the people that are employed need to vote. And the people that are working in AIDS need to vote, so that we can get the Ryan White bill reauthorized. Because we need that. Because that's our funding.

And we need CDC to be more community based, and talking to us. They've been doing all these things; they need to continue that work. And if he's still there for another four years, research could be more advanced in this next four years. We've come so far in the first four.

Like you said, the new two pills are out. There are three one-a-days already.

Atripla came out before he got to be president. But in his presidency, we had three. Under the other president, we had one forever. So that means the research is working. So the cure can come faster. We need four more years.

I just came back from the Democratic National Convention so I'm hyped. I need four more years for Obama. And if you're watching this, vote. Register to vote.

And we upheld our law. You know that voter's law they tried to do in Pennsylvania? We went up to Harrisburg, and today, we just got the ruling from the judge: "I'm not even going to make a decision till after the election." So there's no suppressed voting in the state of Pennsylvania -- which is a swing state. He won it four years ago. He'll win it again. He only needs Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio, and it's a done deal.

Three states will make the difference. And in Pennsylvania, we will be doing all we need to do. We already stopped the voter ID law; and we will be doing voter registration, canvassing, campaigning. I work for the office in West Philly, in my neighborhood, and we will be out there. Because we only got 30-something days till the election.

Nov. 6: This is Oct. 2, 2012.

We got 32 days ... 32 days. So we gotta do all we gotta do. Because if he don't, we won't have the funding to continue our struggle to overcome the barriers, the stigma, to overcome the ignorance. We've got to do it. People's lives depend on it. We've come too far to have a setback. And for me, a setback is just a setup for a comeback.

On that note, I'll bring this interview to a close.

I got too much air now! It's time we have a church up in here. He said, "Where two or three are gathered ..." When they say, "Well, they might not come," I say, "He says, 'Where there are two or three,' right? Listen. I'm one. So I only need one to walk through the door. That's two. Two or three: He will be present. He's really saying, 'If you get there and get one more person, I'm gonna come and be three; and we gonna have Church.'"

You don't need but a little bit, a few people, to get a lot done. When you have a lot of them, then it's all the drama, you know. People bring drama. So you need minimum drama.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Olivia Ford is the executive editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Watch or read part one of this conversation, in which Jeffery talks about the history of black gay HIV activism.


Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
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This article was provided by TheBody.com. It is a part of the publication This Positive Life.


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