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A Good Summer: Still Undetectable, and My Biological Family Wants to Be a Part of My Life

By Tim Hinkhouse

August 21, 2017

Hello there readers: I wanted to update you on my life from behind these prison walls. Recently, I had some blood work done, and I found out my CD4 count is over 700 and my viral load is still undetectable. This brings peace to my soul. My liver, however, is another story. I have cirrhosis with about 20% of it scarred over. My diet has been changing to become the best it can be in prison.

I did want to share something very important to me with all of you reading this. Did I ever mention that I was adopted as a baby? Years ago, the state of Oregon passed legislation saying that adoptees can be given access upon request to information about their birth parents. The start of summer this year, I had my friend draft a letter to send to my birth mother at one of two addresses I had for her. The first attempt failed because she'd moved. I was discouraged, but I wouldn't give up.

A week or two passed, and I asked to have the letter sent to the other address in Minnesota. On June 26, 2017, my friend told me that she received a call from my birth mom telling her that she has been trying to find me all these years. Imagine the emotions I was going through after hearing this? I have been in a cloud of disbelief that we are communicating after 47-plus years!

She knows about my being HIV positive and how I have been living with it. When she told me that she had printed all of my blog entries to see how I write, it made me happy. In one email, she told me that she was sad for my illness, which touched my heart. Now, when she hears how I am healthy and working hard to stay alive, it seems to be encouraging for her.

Anyone reading this who has been HIV positive for any amount of time will know that there are ways to continue living and have a decent quality of life. Living with this chronic illness can be difficult at times, but it can be a valuable teacher, as well. What do I mean by this? My lifestyle choices used to be self-destructive. I ate unhealthy foods, used drugs, drank alcohol and stayed awake for days at a time, too. Now, I am eating healthier; I am clean and sober; and I sleep way too much for a man my age.

My life has been an improvement overall, and the fact that my biological family wants to be a part of my life is encouraging. I have a younger brother that I want to get to know and a sister-in-law that I am excited to meet, too! There is also a younger sister in Minnesota who wants to be in my life, and she wants to get to know her big brother, which makes me happy! I am blessed to be able to take this opportunity to nurture a relationship that I've always wanted.

Being an HIV-positive man has actually made me a better person, and it has taught me many wonderful life lessons. People around me have seen the changes, and I want to show people outside these prison walls the changes I have made, as well.

Have a safe and happy summer, readers. Stay healthy and stay safe. Tim.

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Character Lessons I Learned While Imprisoned for HIV Criminalization
More Personal Accounts and Profiles of Prisoners With HIV/AIDS

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HIV on the Inside

Tim Hinkhouse

Tim Hinkhouse

I have been HIV-positive for over 25 years and have been in prison in Oregon for almost as long because of my health status and non-disclosure. I'll talk to you about the issues faced by a person in my position along with the discrimination and stigmas attached to it behind these prison walls. I'll tell you about the strength and courage I found inside myself to NOT hang up and let this illness or my circumstances finish me off.

Tim Hinkhouse #7632447
Two Rivers Correctional Inst.
82911 Beach Access Rd.
Umatilla, OR 97882

You can also email me at hi.timothy7019

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