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Readers' Forum

June 2001

Article: Readers' Forum

To Body Positive:

My name is Cliff M. Novell; Texas Department of Corrections number 427154. I am 38 years old, have been HIV-positive since 1984 and living with AIDS since 1991. I'm currently serving a 30 years sentence for assault, which I began in 1986.

I have done a whole lot of things against the law, against nature and against my Higher Power. None of which am I proud of and yet I have worked on forgiving myself and ask the ones I have harmed, directly or indirectly for forgiveness. Yet there is something I can't forgive myself for. I had unprotected sex with other people without informing them of my medical condition.

I contracted this disease through promiscuous sexual activity and know now that the one person who infected me, was aware of their disease at that time. So I know how it felt when I was told of my disease and who gave it to me. There is no excuse for what they did and no excuse for my thoughtlessness either. I consider my actions worse than the person who infected me, for I am older and more educated about this virus and its complications than they were in 1984.

The reason I am telling you this today is to beg of you -- don't follow my path. Please protect the people you wish to be sexually active with. Please find it within yourself to tell them you are HIV-positive or living with AIDS or hepatitis or whatever you have.

Even with the progress that has been made in medications and treatments, HIV/AIDS has no cure. The medications are not pleasant either. Just because the virus can be slowed down doesn't give me or you the right to have uninformed and unprotected sex. You cannot take back this disease after you pass it on, a point that haunts me daily. Don't let it haunt you.

Cliff M. Nowell #427154
Wynne Unit
Huntville, Tx 77349

To Body Positive:

My name is Sheila Washington. I'm 34 years old. I'm also HIV positive. I've been positive since 1990. When I found out I was positive I wanted to commit suicide. When I found out I was in jail at the time. An older lady talked with me for 4 hours and she let me know I can live with this virus. But when I got released I was committing suicide by using drugs.

Not really caring about myself anymore, I was a very sad case. I'm really hurt by the person who passed it on to me. I felt that he should have been man enough to let me know that he was sick, and maybe we could have had protected sex. But at that time I really was caught up in the grips of using. I'm very happy to say that I no longer use drugs. I'm a blessed recovering addict.

God saved my life again. He heard my cry for help and he is healing my body with those stripes he bore for me. I'm very grateful to be alive to tell you my story. Some didn't make it. I encourage others and let them know that Jesus is our healer of all diseases. By his stripes, we with all kinds of sickness in our body are healed. Have faith and believe.

I read your magazines and its articles on teaching our children about HIV/AIDS. I feel that children should learn at a young age so when they grow to maturity they won't make the same mistakes we made in life and have to suffer consequences like this. They should learn about how other people are dealing with this virus and they should also learn how to have compassion for people not dealing with it so well. Yes, they should learn what to do to help those that need help.

God Bless
Sheila Washington

Back to the June 2001 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.
See Also
More Personal Accounts and Profiles of Prisoners With HIV/AIDS