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Personal Story

Through Blogging, HIV-Positive People Can Have a Platform to Be Heard and Understood

May 24, 2018

Tim Hinkhouse

Tim Hinkhouse (Credit: Selfie by Tim Hinkhouse)

I know that it has been awhile since my last blog entry. Let me start by saying to those of you who are interested in linking my blog, I need you to contact editor@thebody.com and ask what you need to do. Several people have written asking to do this. Let me remind my readers that I am in prison, and I have no way to access the internet directly, so I can't answer your internet questions or link anything for you. I am sorry.

Here is how I am able to post online: I own an archaic MP4 player that was purchased through Access Corrections, which has control and a monopoly over the inmates it serves, not only in the state of Oregon. I have a flimsy plastic keyboard that I plug into the side of my MP4 player. The power cord is plugged in next to the keyboard cord. Then I find the "mail box" and go to my editor's name here at TheBody and open that email folder. Trying to find a quiet place to sit and collect my thoughts, I'll type them up while looking at a screen that is about two and a half inches across with super tiny font. After I am satisfied with what I have written, I save it as "outgoing mail."

Then, I have to go to the "control point," which is where the unit officer sits behind a bulletproof window, and I checkout a book in which I sign my name so I can go to the kiosk at the next available scheduled time. At that time, I have to wait my turn behind whoever signed up before me. When it is finally my turn, I enter into a "sally port," where I have to wait for who knows how long for the outside door to open that will lead me down the corridor. Once this door is opened by the staff working in another part of the prison called "master control," I turn left immediately, in the direction of the kiosk. Next, I have to plug my MP4 into the kiosk and wait who knows how long for it to go through the protocol and send out the email.

Being in prison, each email gets screened by the mailroom before it is actually sent to my editor. Keep in mind that our mailroom usually sends these in the mornings Monday through Friday because they won't be caught dead working on the weekends. The same goes when I get an email sent to me; it gets screened and then forwarded to me. I can't say that being a blogger in here is being made easy for me.

Now, let me catch you up on my HIV status. I am surprised and relieved that my viral load has been undetectable for such a long time now. My T cells are getting higher the longer I am staying healthy. Want to know what is strange? When this housing unit has a cold or flu spread through it, I always tend to miss it. This is something that I am grateful for. A fellow prisoner once asked me about that, and I didn't know what to say, so I told him that I had good genes. We both had a good laugh about that. This got me seriously wondering why I stay so healthy and manage to avoid being sick?

HIV has been living with me for over 28 years, and I guess we are like an old married couple, we don't talk much; I stay out the HIV's business and it stays out of mine! Life with this illness really isn't something to be afraid of if you take care of yourself and just live your life a little more carefully.

Today, I was fortunate enough to have a video visit with a friend who lives in Pittsburgh. We had discussed the launch of a new HIV website and blog for HIV-positive people living in Pennsylvania. I told him that I would blog about it to promote his site. He knows I will advocate for my HIV-positive brothers and sisters, so this is me trying to help get out the word.

If you live in this state, you need HIV support, and you want to talk about issues affecting you, then I encourage you to click on www.mycommunityvoices.org and talk about it on all social media sites. Share this with your Facebook friends and ask them to pass it on. As you know, HIV still affects us, and we still need the support of others, no matter where we live. This site will have weekly topics on HIV health and how to best manage it, provide questions for your HIV provider, and address concerns such as treatments, meds and how they affect us, mental health questions and solutions, dating, disclosure of status, and whatever else you want to share, discuss, and know about.

Wherever you are reading this, please consider if you want to be an AIDS activist and start your own HIV blog(s) and website to reach out and help your HIV community. We still need people who have the passion to create avenues so our HIV-affected friends and families can hear our voices on a large scale. HIV-positive people can have a platform to be heard and understood.

Thank you for being supportive.

Read Tim's blog, HIV on the Inside.

Get e-mail notifications every time Tim's blog is updated.


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