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This Positive Life: An Interview With Anthony Castro and Frank Lopez

February 1, 2011

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Bonnie Goldman: Do you have a lot of support here in San Francisco? Do you have a lot of friends who are positive?

Frank Lopez: I know a lot of people that are positive. I have purposely dropped out of the limelight. I'm Frankie Ninja and I'm known throughout the whole country because of Willi. I could go to any club and get the red carpet treatment. Just walk in front -- "Oh, there's the House of Ninja!" But that's no longer the life I want to live. I recognize that it's a fake life. You have five minutes of fun, and then you have to pay for it for the rest of your life. And the price is not worth it. So I choose now to stay home with Anthony.


Bonnie Goldman: But you still have parties, dinner parties or gatherings?

Frank Lopez: Gatherings, yeah. We're fortunate that San Francisco has a number of organizations. And a lot of these organizations are nationwide: the Shanti Project, the AIDS Health Project, the AIDS Foundation.

Bonnie Goldman: Do you have any other regimen besides your treatment? Do you eat special things? Take vitamins? Do anything like that?

Frank Lopez: You know, diet is a very important part of HIV health. I have found that as time has gone by, my own body has become intolerant of foods that I love, like pizza. I will still eat it, knowing that an hour from now I'm going to be throwing it up. But, yeah, I try to eat foods that are high in protein, high in vitamins, things like spinach, meat, fish. It seems that since I've become HIV positive the only thing that my body really can handle is seafood. I can eat it with no problem and because it's high in Omega-3 it also helps with brain function.

Bonnie Goldman: And Anthony, are you on antidepressants?

Anthony Castro: I'm on an antidepressant. I'm taking Wellbutrin.

Bonnie Goldman: And are you seeing a therapist?

Anthony Castro: Yeah. Yeah.

Bonnie Goldman: Does that help you?

Anthony Castro: It does help, because sometimes, when you are under all this pressure, you just look at the bad things. And when you talk to somebody about what's going on in your life, and they focus you: "Yeah, but you are no longer doing drugs and you're living with a person -- you're living in an apartment where one of your roommates is doing drugs. So that's good for you. You are not doing drugs. You managed quitting smoking. You managed getting yourself from 4 T cells to 1,024."

But if I keep looking at the bad, I'm just going to get on the bad. But I have my therapist, and she's been wonderful. And she's, like, "Look at all the accomplishments you've been doing. You should be proud of yourself."

Bonnie Goldman: Did your father ever come around to supporting you?

Anthony Castro: No. No. My father, I thank him, that he's the man that gave me life. But that's where it ends. He just gave me life. But everything else, I am because of me and because of my big support.

Bonnie Goldman: And your mom? Are you in touch with your mom?

Anthony Castro: I'm very in touch with my mom now. It's funny, because we're more in touch now, and we share more stuff now than before. I mean, I never finished my high school and now I'm finishing my high school. My mother didn't finish her high school either. But now I tell her, "Mom, you know, I'm doing these classes to teach people about HIV. I'm going to be a facilitator with some of the organizations. And I put myself to study, to finish my high school. I'm doing my G.E.D." My mom got so excited that she said, "I want to go study, too." So we're both finishing doing our G.E.D.

And we share a lot of stuff. My mom is now learning also about HIV. She wants to know what's the disease. She wants to start taking classes about the disease. And she also mentioned that she wants to start teaching people that HIV is not a curse of God; it's not a death sentence. So we are very much in the same plane. Instead of dividing us, like it did at the beginning, it's now keeping us together.

Bonnie Goldman: So what is the source of your strength?

Anthony Castro: This is a big part of my strength. He reminds me not to give up. And I do the same for him.

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