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What Will You Do?

By Philip D.

March 17, 2010

Several weeks ago, I attended a Town Hall meeting at the LGBT Center here in San Francisco, where some very learned men did their best to describe to a room full of lay people how leading medical minds propose to eradicate HIV from the body.

Now I must admit, for obvious reasons, it was a concept that I found especially intriguing. Each speaker took a turn at the microphone using words like "provirus" and "reservoir cells" as they did their best to enlighten the information-hungry audience about a rather complicated idea. As much as I enjoy being fed some great medical lingo as much the next guy, it was an exercise one of the young docs called a "Kumbaya Moment" that really made me think (and feel).

Early in the evening, Dr. Rick asked that those in attendance close their eyes and imagine where they'll be when they first hear the news that HIV can be eradicated. "Maybe you'll be in your doctor's office, or even reading it over a morning cup of coffee. It's possible," he continued, "that you'll be with some of your poz friends or even the love of your life. Perhaps you'll get the call from a family member or even hear it in passing as you walk down the street." (That's how I found out about Farrah and Michael). "Visualize that day," he beckoned.

Now I've done enough yoga classes to say the concept of creative visualization isn't exactly new to me. Instructors will often end a session with each student asked to envision peace to all the earth's people. I've done it, mostly because I believe it works but this time for me, it was different.

I leaned against a sturdy column, and as I felt my eyelids close out the bad fluorescent light, I listened to the rhythmic beat of the voice leading the exercise. I gave my imagination complete permission to lead me as far as it possibly could in three minutes, as I pondered that fateful day. Where I ended up surprised even me. (My vivid imagination has got me in trouble before)

You might find it hard to believe but after visualizing dancing in the streets and perhaps having sex with anything that moved (just kidding, Honey), I found myself standing alone on a high peak, the sun on my face, saying adios to the virus that has unequivocally changed my life. Don't get me wrong, I'd be fucking thrilled to get this out of my veins once and for all but I can't honestly say that said virus hasn't caused me to live each day more fully, pushed me to trust and love after many years of shying away from potential mates, to literally clean up my act in more ways than one and through helping others, found a purpose that I was desperately lacking.

Oh, but enough about me ... you try it.

What will you do?

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A Positive Spin

Philip D.

Philip D.

After testing HIV positive in 2007, I promised myself that I would make something "good" from all that I was handed. From the very beginning, each time I was presented with an obstacle or challenge, I also received some help. Usually in the form of a person, sometimes an opportunity; but I have grown so much, it has made it impossible for me to call the past few years "bad." Although I've never written much of anything before, I have been so incredibly fortunate, I feel like I must pay it forward somehow. Maybe by sharing my experience, it will help those starting later in the game, on the fast track to HAART, or anyone that's feeling a bit isolated or "stuck" with their diagnosis.

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