This Positive Life: An Interview With Richard Brodsky
April 1, 2011
Olivia Ford: So now what was the first thing that you did that helped you come to terms with Richard's diagnosis and helped you get over some of that shock?
Jodi Brodsky: I think I was talking years ago -- he's been infected with the virus, how many years is it now?
Richard Brodsky: Since '97, so it's about almost 14 years.
Jodi Brodsky: There were a lot of hotlines that you can call, so I really did call people, talk to people. Then, we found three doctors. So we did interview like three different doctors. The doctors would give us information. We felt like, who was the most knowledgeable, what were their ideas, how to start treatment or not.
So I think calling on the hotlines, I'm a very talkative person, I don't keep things in. So I got on the line with people and talked to people that I never met before and told them the situation, and asked what should we be doing. So that really helped me. I guess I felt like sometimes people would say -- like another woman would have said, "That's disgusting and I don't want to be with you. How could this happen?" I felt more sorry for him.
Olivia Ford: Besides the hotlines that you went to and talking to doctors and things, was there any place that you went to for support, as far as in person? Did you go to support groups or did you ever meet any other wives or partners of HIV-positive folks? Did you do any of that kind of thing?
Jodi Brodsky: Not really.
Richard Brodsky: It really wasn't our thing to do. I don't know. I don't think we wallowed. Maybe we got over it -- initially it took some time. I'm trying to think.
Jodi Brodsky: I mean we used more of the doctor as our sense of support. The one doctor we ended up going with is a small practice, a sole practitioner, so we found out information from him and he would constantly tell us about, "OK, do you understand about the safe sex? And you understand exactly what you have to do?" So I think we looked at him for our support.
Olivia Ford: It sounds as if you all are very good support for each other as well.
Richard Brodsky: Yeah, for sure.
Jodi Brodsky: Yeah, right.
Richard Brodsky: This was my gift to my wife. [Picks up book.]
Olivia Ford: Hold it up.
Richard Brodsky: She's really just the best. Donald Trump, he may have more money than me, but he doesn't have a wife on a cover of a book.
Olivia Ford: Since you touched on this a little bit in talking about your going to your doctor for information, how has Richard's diagnosis affected the intimate aspects of your relationship and your sex life? Was there a lot of change?
Jodi Brodsky: A little bit of changes, because you do have to be very cautious. We're still intimate and I'm not scared about it. I think maybe people would say, "Do you feel like you might contract the virus?" I guess I felt like that's part of a relationship. Intimate's done. We know how to practice safe sex, so we're very careful.
"We'd also read in a survey, of 93 couples, where one was positive and the other was negative, over a five-year period, if they were using protection, none of them spread the virus to the other person."
Richard Brodsky: I think the other thing is, we'd also read in a survey, of 93 couples, where one was positive and the other was negative, over a five-year period, if they were using protection, none of them spread the virus to the other person. So I think that was somewhat comforting for both of us.
Olivia Ford: Absolutely. Condoms are very effective. It's true. Thank you for that. So now switching gears to what brought you together, it sounds like marathon running. How did you decide, each of you individually, because it sounds like you ran before you knew each other, how did you decide to run your first marathon?
Richard Brodsky: It's a bond, the marathon running. Jodi's great because when we go to Africa and sponsor this World AIDS Marathon -- I don't know, if I could just show you this picture for a minute. I kind of really like this picture a lot. [Picks up photo.]
Olivia Ford: Hold it up for a second so that it's over your faces. I just want to make sure it gets seen. OK.
Richard Brodsky: It was a very chance picture. It was the 2006 World AIDS Marathon. This guy Zeus got in the way. Zeus is the supreme god in Greek mythology. If you go on the Web site, the caption sort of reads like, "Even Zeus came from another time to see how the modern-day marathon was faring. May this be a sign that a cure or vaccine is in the near future." We just love going there. We've been to Africa six times. It really gives us a sense of purpose because we have three daughters here. I sort of feel if Jodi and I were living in Africa, would our daughters be one of the 11,500,000 orphans living in Sub-Saharan Africa? So when we go there, we also sponsor these orphan dinner dances. And they're such uplifting experiences. It's this side of Africa that you don't see on television.
There are these kids there and we see them also. They're poor. They're skinny. They're under-nourished. They don't have shoes. They are barefoot. But when we do these orphan dinner dances, we've done them for 2,800 orphans and we like to go back to the same place, and the kids remember us. I don't know who enjoys it more, if the kids do or if we do. But we really enjoy it. And then we have these children's walks. Our board members are Kenyan. They're really good. They just organize everything. It's a joint collaboration. We pay for some things. They pay for some other things. It just works.
This article was provided by TheBody.