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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

My Search for Meaning

A Video Blog

By Mark S. King

May 27, 2009

When I got my first position at an HIV/AIDS organization in 1987, I thought the job would be my last. I was HIV positive, living in Los Angeles and surrounded by fear and dying. How could I possibly be here to type this blog to you now?

It's a blessing and a curse of sorts. Why me, why now ... why ask why?

If you've been faced with your own mortality -- whether it was 20 years ago like me or if you tested HIV positive last week -- there comes a time when you have to ask what the meaning of this diagnosis is. That confusion and sense of meaninglessness was the engine of my drug addiction (or did the addiction create the loss of meaning?). At any rate, I talked to three key people who helped me sort it out: Dr. Jesse Peel, who is a retired psychiatrist living with AIDS; my own physician, Dr. David Morris; and a longtime gay Christian activist, Rev. Chris Glaser.

Episode Nine: My Search for Meaning

It turns out there is a common thread in their beliefs and worldviews. I hope you enjoy their takes on life, death and meaning. And I look forward to your own opinions of what the hell (or heaven) our existence means!

In the meantime, my friends, please be well. And good luck on your journey.


To contact Mark, click here.

See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Cecie (Nairobi Kenya.) Mon., Sep. 20, 2010 at 6:46 am UTC
Yes,its not easy in the beginning,but guess what,after 15 years of HIV,i am now doing my Masters degree in Medical sociology,am healthy,strong,beautiful and have a good family and a job..I only remember my companion HIv when i am taking drugs.
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Comment by: Brian D. Barber (South Orange County, California) Fri., Dec. 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm UTC
Thanks Mark, I think you are GREAT....God Bless
and Sober on ,
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Comment by: Thomas Bartell (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Sat., Nov. 14, 2009 at 8:39 am UTC
Oh my God! Thank you for taking the time. This is the first of your videos I've seen and will watch the others for sure. The shrink is great but the REV is transendant and so are you when you talk with him. You will never be satisfied, but that's what keeps us going and growing. Our stories are similar but you have some great people to draw on in your life!
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Comment by: Alisha B (durham,nc) Mon., Nov. 9, 2009 at 10:57 am UTC
i feel much more informed after reading this. thank you to everyone who has put in the effort and time into helping students like me become more informed. I will make sure im always being safe and am doing a good job of it thanks.
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Comment by: CopenHIV (Copenhagen, Denmark) Sat., Oct. 31, 2009 at 10:44 am UTC
This video made me cry but at the same time it pointed towards a bright future for me and all of us. I'm newly diagnosed with HIV and have to find a way back to my life quality and it is difficult. But this is very inspiring input and I hope time will work for me...
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Comment by: Max Kline (Guerneville, CA) Mon., Aug. 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm UTC
A wonderful video blog. I am putting you on my heroes list for certain. Lots of valuable tips for good living in that piece. I agree with much of what you said as well as with what your guests had to offer.

My only addition personally, is that I try to live my life with the intention of minimizing harm in the world. Treating others with courtesy and respect and helping others is key for my happiness. Also, being an atheist I have a natural appreciation for life because I know it will be the only life for me and that makes it all the more important to do the right thing and to be awed by what evolution has brought us...nature in all it's beauty (and ugliness). Not a day goes by that I do not acknowledge this fact.

What's the meaning of my life?...well...I'm not sure there HAS to be a reason with a capital R. There are consequences for actions, of course, and I take responsibility for those...including drug use that caused my AIDS diagnosis in 1986. It would be nice to think that my actions in life will be appreciated by others and that I will be loved by others. After I die... and in 200 years well then perhaps it will not have made much of a difference. What matters is the here and now just like you stated.

Your final comments in the video are spot on...and the song and dance you did at the end brought tears to my eyes. I admire your courage and service to the community.

Best wishes to you!

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Comment by: Anita (Oakland, CA) Fri., Aug. 14, 2009 at 1:18 am UTC
I appreciate Mark's honesty. A lot of people can learn for his story and attitude. Here's a link to a site that features HIV-positive young adults with similar spirits.
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Comment by: Richard Douvillier (New Orleans) Wed., Jun. 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm UTC
Mark, your blogs are amazing!I can only imagine how many people you have help with your candidness. And yet all done with a sense of humor and of great love. you have grown into an amazing man!
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Comment by: Juan (Spain) Fri., Jun. 12, 2009 at 4:23 pm UTC
Thank you man!
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Comment by: Maria (Delray Beach, Florida - 33444) Wed., Jun. 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm UTC
Dear Mark,

Thanks for enlightening our lives with such good vibrations. Tonight your were a channel from the force and a voice to be heard sent to me by my guardian angel. Smiles...
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Comment by: Kristen, your awesome neice (Iraq - get me out!) Wed., Jun. 3, 2009 at 2:05 pm UTC
Hey Uncle Marky - You said you loved two people, didn't even say xoxo! Loved the musical number!
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Comment by: Drew (Sydney, Australia) Sun., May. 31, 2009 at 5:26 am UTC
OMG!!! Again Mark I sooo look forward to your Video Blog. I tested POZ on 20th July 2007. I was in denial about it for a year, partying like there was no tomorrow...but there comes a time when you have to look yourself in the mirror and say "I AM HIV POSITIVE"'s time to change my life. it's "now or never". So i try to get myself to the gym (hot eye candy) and try to eat well. But at the end of the day I have started to LOVE MYSELF and be PRO-ACTIVE in everything i do.

Cheers Drew.
p.s sometimes i slip up and end up out all night on pills but...but who said we are perfect. LOL

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Comment by: Sue (Kansas City, MO) Sat., May. 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm UTC
Thought provoking for everyone, whether living with AIDS or not---reminds me to be grateful for everything in my life, even the extra weight I carry around---and most of all for you.
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Comment by: Todd Ahlberg (Berkeley, CA) Fri., May. 29, 2009 at 9:17 pm UTC
Great piece Mr. Mark! I enjoyed it very much and really appreciated it. You go!
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Comment by: Mike Kennedy (Charlotte, NC) Fri., May. 29, 2009 at 10:02 am UTC
Mark - it is a privilege to watch your continuing journey (and it was great to see Chris again!). There has remained one constant - and that is drawing people towards meaning by drawing them out of themselves, helping them find value in putting someone else's needs first. "Shallowness" does not discriminate along lines of sexuality (as the current economic mess is teaching us) - thanks for nudging us to remember daily that relationships call out our "better angels." Diane sends her love!
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Comment by: willy (rochester,ny) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm UTC
Having also lived through and survived the early years of this disease, I've also often pondered it all. I do know why friends who didn't make it would want me to live my life as best I could, be as happy as possible and perhaps think of them from time to time. When I tested positive in 1988 I was 34 years old and my goal was to try to make it to 50. Since I accomplished that task, for me ,now, every day is like the "icing on the cake".I learned that sometimes life just sucks, there is so much suffering in this world. To do my part to change this fact, I try to take care of those I love and to be there for them in THEIR time of need. Forget about "things" and think about people and ideas. You'll sleep much better.
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Comment by: Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm UTC
Dear Mark, Thank you for finally saying the truth about HIV. It is not a gift. I stopped going to support groups because somebody would say "HIV is a gift and saved my life." Well, most of those people are dead now. I tested positive in 1991. I hated HIV then and I hate it even more now. HIV ruined my life. Prior to the day I tested HIV+ I loved life and living day to day. For me nothing good has come from HIV and nothing ever will if I live 5, 10, or 50 more years.
I do want to say thank you for the blog. You are helping people.
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Comment by: Nicole (Bay Area) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 1:39 pm UTC
Thank You
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Comment by: dena (Bronx, ny) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm UTC
Hi Mark, I love your blogs. I look forward to
the strength and comfort I receive as a mother of a child who is HIV positive. I am looking forward, very much excited for my son's upcoming wedding and want to say thank you for the inspiration you give not only to those who's status is HIV positive/aids but also those who love them. I found wisdom in all three conversations -- usefulness, finding someone to love and having Jesus in our lives.
Thank you, Dena
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Comment by: Ben (Ft. Lauderdale) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 9:32 am UTC
The interviews were good, building on what you did in the last blog about friends. The music was more atmospheric and set the tone for each of the three. This was in a reflective mood that you did really well in the blog about your brother.
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Comment by: Francois (Montreal,Canada) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 8:19 am UTC
Very inspiring Mark. Be useful, love and be aware of what takes you up to a level of some spirituality, this is what I retain from your video. Thank you very much for your openness and integrity.
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Comment by: Janus (South Africa) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 2:51 am UTC
Hey there Mark

I enjoyed this episode.

What I learned from this episode is that one could still be friends and "love" ex-partners. I also learned that they can also be a great source of finding out who you are when one is not always sure at times.

Keep up with the good work.

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Comment by: Bill Maloney (McKinney, TX) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 12:08 am UTC

I enjoy reading, seeing, hearing your work, especially this installment. I never really thought much about "man's search for meaning" in a deeply critical, analytical, or introspective way until reading Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" (I know, a bit cliche) about a decade ago. We all experience people and events in our lives at "just the right moment" for which they are intended to inspire each unique lesson. I have no idea what the hell all that means, I'm just happy to have you re-enter my life as we both continue on our journeys to figure things the hell out.

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Comment by: rob b (san francisco) Thu., May. 28, 2009 at 12:01 am UTC
I had to run screaming from the room when the christian ex started putting words into god's mouth.
Dude, you need some new friends. Be of service. The only good advice in the whole damned film clip.
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Comment by: Charles (Macon, GA) Wed., May. 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm UTC
I tested positive in 1988. I've watched so many friends die pointless deaths from the early years when life expectancy was measured in months. Is HIV a gift? NO! I want that Mercedes.

I have learned to live with this disease. In our local support group we say "Don't let this disease take control of your life. Take control of this disease." Nice words, but contrary to my best intentions I find myself working my life around this disease. Having to take meds every day and go to the doctor every 3 months can do that. But, I do what must be done without complaint. It's my life, and I'm going to live it!

Since becoming HIV+ I have changed. I've come out of my shell. Rather than being the shy wallflower I now look for opportunities to speak to groups. I don't want to see another person test POZ.

What is the meaning of HIV? There is none. Why try placing a meaning on a virus? It's up to each of us to find meaning in his own life beyond an illness.

"Shallow faggot"? If that's you, I wish more of my friends were the same.
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My Fabulous Disease

Mark S. King has been an active AIDS activist, writer and community organization leader since the early 1980s in Los Angeles. He has been an outspoken advocate for prevention education and for issues important to those living with HIV.

Diagnosed in 1985, Mark has held positions with the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, AID Atlanta and AIDS Survival Project, and is an award-winning writer. He continues his volunteer work as an AIDS educator and speaker for conferences and events.

Speaking engagements: Mark King is available to speak to groups. Contact Mark about speaking at your organization or event!

More About Mark:

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Recent Posts:

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A Place Like This by Mark King

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To read PDF, click here

Interviews With Mark:

Mark King Looks Back at the AIDS Epidemic's Darkest Hour in the U.S. (May 14, 2008)

This Month in HIV: Crystal Methamphetamine and HIV (August 2007)

For the rest of Mark's articles, click here.

A Brief Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed by's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of itself.