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Thomas DeLorenzo

Who Knew So Few T Cells Could Accomplish So Much?

A Pre-Existing Condition Can Wreck Your Whole Day
August 3, 2010

Early last year, I finally decided to take the plunge and go back to school and move my life in a completely new direction. I had decided to go to law school and study health policy law. A natural choice for a verbose person with AIDS, right? Apparently wrong. The best laid plans of mice, men and PR guys often go astray. This idea was apparently to be another one of them. The very condition that got me to this place, my very own virus, would be the final straw in this equation. Because of my HIV status, I am not able to obtain insurance in any other state but California. In fact, I have to do whatever possible to maintain the insurance I currently have. Despite the fact that it costs as much as small house payment. Its mere existence does not guarantee "health;" but merely offers a chance to access life saving medications and a patchwork of specialized physicians.

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Is There a Line in the Health Care Reform That Promises a Cure for AIDS?
May 4, 2010

"Do not go gentle into that good night," wrote Dylan Thomas. That seems to be the prevailing subtext of the 2010 HIV Research Catalyst Forum. From April 20th until April 23rd, a large collection of HIV activists gathered in Baltimore, Maryland at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel to discuss the latest in treatment issues, new strategies to energize their activist base and bring new individuals into the fold, creative ways to deal with pharmaceutical companies, and discussing exactly how the health care reform will affect people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Breaking the "Red Ribbon Ceiling"
February 24, 2010

After most of my applications went in, I started to ask schools about their health care program. For if I move to another state, Blue Shield has already told me that they PROBABLY won't be able to transfer my policy to another Blue Shield, but that they could try. Not comforting is an understatement. At this point, a very good friend who works at a University told me that students are required to buy into the school's group plan or show proof of coverage. Great, I thought briefly. Because once I looked at the policies, I realized they had to be designed by Republicans.

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HIV/AIDS: On or Off the Application?
February 23, 2010

Admitting to myself that I wanted to go to Law School was one thing -- now I had to get in. I knew it was going to be hard but I honestly had no idea what I was up against. There is that obvious moment of hell called the LSAT. Prior to that, I honestly didn't care if the oboe was picked and the saxophone was left home (logic games -- they are only logical to law students). I got to take the test twice. No, not because I enjoyed the first time so very much, but because one of my clients and very good friends had her cancer return. It was just under three weeks away from the test date, and I got to deal with the media frenzy full time -- 24/7. By the time I stopped shaking, it was five days out and any knowledge I had gained had fallen out of my head. I took it anyways, figuring it was going to at least be a great practice session, and had the score cancelled.

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The Decision; or, "A Lot of Life Left"
February 22, 2010

This Fall I will be attending Law School somewhere that remains to be determined. That is not the big news -- the big news is that I am the first long-term survivor with AIDS to do so. At first I couldn't believe it, but when you keep getting reactions from Admissions offices like, "Wow, never heard that before," you start to figure it out.

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Back From the Brink
November 10, 2009

I was not always this outspoken with my status. In fact, in the beginning, I was incredibly fearful. I knew I had AIDS well before the doctors made it official. I was living in denial not stupidity. I knew that when you lose as much weight as I did and you are eating McDonald's pretty much every day, something isn't working right. I knew that the sheets were not supposed to be wet every morning from my never-ending night sweats. I knew all that -- but I still did nothing about it.

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Since When Is the Expression of Fear and Ignorance a Basic American Right?
August 25, 2009

All these conversations about health care just keep me going back to two words -- fear and denial. Remove these two words, and we would easily have a health care system that could work for every single American. Keep these two words in the equation, and you have the quagmire that we are currently engaged in. Keep these two words in the conversation, and people will continue to get ill unnecessarily. Keep these two words in the conversation, and we all lose precious ground.

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How I Fell in Love With an Illegal Alien
July 22, 2009

In less than 45 days, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could lift the HIV travel ban. Currently, HIV-positive non-Americans cannot enter the country legally. In December of 1987, then Senator Jesse Helms added a rider to an agricultural bill, making it illegal for a person with HIV/AIDS to step foot on American soil. The senator's thinking was that the world would flood our shores with tired, hungry, immunocompromised masses yearning to take advantage of our American health care system.

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Who Knew So Few T Cells Could Accomplish So Much?

Until just a few years ago, Thomas DeLorenzo never would have believed he could become an HIV/AIDS activist. Before he was "officially" diagnosed with HIV in 2001 -- with 60 T cells and a viral load of 300,000 -- DeLorenzo had been living in denial. And until 2006, he was too busy dealing with the many side effects of his own HIV meds to think about helping anyone else. Then he and his doctors finally figured out the perfect med combo -- and, finally, DeLorenzo felt that he actually had a future.

DeLorenzo lives in Los Angeles with his partner and is currently attending law school at Southwestern University School of Law. His career goals include making sure all Americans have access to adequate and affordable health care. Prior to law school, DeLorenzo worked as a publicist in the entertainment industry, representing many award-winning celebrities.

In 2006, The New York Times named him an Unsung Hero in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS for his Christmas Goody Bag Project for the residents of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation Hospice. In 2008, DeLorenzo was the San Antonio AIDS Foundation's Angel of the Year. DeLorenzo's alma mater, Hofstra University, named him Alumnus of the Month in August 2009 for his work on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS. DeLorenzo was recently appointed to the City of West Hollywood's Disabilities Advisory Board.

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