I'm presently incarcerated and I have AIDS. I have written a letter, "Me & AIDS," that might be of interest to Positively Aware readers.
AIDS has knocked 30 years or more off my young life. I don't want anyone to experience the heartache, pain, confusion, and hardship that I have been going through in dealing with AIDS, drugs, alcohol, and prison.
I feel that if I can reach one reader and persuade them to think twice before they use drugs or alcohol, or have unprotected sex, then my life won't be a total waste.
I have been HIV positive since 1989 and today I have full-blown AIDS. My immune system is practically gone, depleted! Everyone does what he believes is in his best interest. Today I am writing to you out of love and sincerity.
I am being subjected to an extreme and stressful environment with officers, offenders, some staff members, and others who are sick mentally, hateful, and evil within the unfair, double-standard justice system at this prison.
Through it all, to have learned that I have the virus that causes AIDS living in my body drove me to the lowest and deepest level of negative and corrupt form of living. I became lost and confused in 1989 at the age of 22.
I told my family and friends that I had HIV in the hopes of getting moral support. I was wrong. Everybody turned their backs on me out of fear that I might give them HIV. Nobody wanted me around. I found myself homeless. I have eaten out of garbage cans. I have done things that I am too ashamed to speak of, just to survive on the streets.
I turned to alcohol and drugs to help me deal with and maintain what I felt was a sensible outlook on life. This led me to live a life full of hell, and full of crime. I seemed not to care about myself anymore. In the past, the best way to handle my fears, loneliness, and depression was to turn to alcohol to help me forget about myself and my problems, and that only led me to jail.
Growing up as a young adult in my teens, I was rebellious toward my mother and father. I would not listen when they tried to give me good advice concerning sex, drugs, alcohol, and crime. As a result, at a young age I hung out with the wrong crowd, started smoking cigarettes and later, went on to drinking and staying out late at night.
I graduated from drinking and cigarettes to selling and doing drugs. This made me feel like I was cool. Today I realize I was a fool, not cool. I wanted to fit in with the crowd. I was mostly pressured by my so-called friends to do drugs and drink with them, and so I did.
I became a sexually promiscuous person. The alcohol and drugs led me to have unprotected sex with many women. The phrase, "When you have sex with someone, you have sex with everyone they ever slept with," is true!
AIDS is a powerful, painful, and cunning disease. I have had painful, swollen glands in my neck, rapid weight loss, constant fatigue, persistent diarrhea, constant skin problems, sores in my mouth, shortness of breath, endless night sweats, recurring infections, and mental anguish. These are just some of the symptoms I deal with on a daily basis. It gets so bad that I wish I was dead. The medication is not working the way it should, so I prepare for the worst.
I am speaking out to the young adults, as well as to my peers, only to encourage them not to live as I once did. The sex, drugs, alcohol, and rebelliousness is certainly not worth it. Please hear me out and take heed to what I'm saying, please.
Undra C. Fulton, #983698, Pendleton Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 30, Pendleton, Indiana 46064, firstname.lastname@example.org
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