Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is the TRUE face of HIV/AIDS. Stigma is still a killer.

You received a video message. Click here to play it. This is the TRUE face of HIV/AIDS. Stigma is still a killer.

by Reggie Smith HHP

Not too long ago, this is what I looked like as a result of stress related, stigma generated suffering caused by HIV. We are seeing many more people openly share how blessed we are as a result of the medications that are available, but rarely do we get a look at what happens when the meds stop working, or when stress due to the secrets we keep regarding how we are living affects our spirit, minds, and then our bodies. This video is a look at the dark side.

Here is what happened to lead up to this resurrection adventure. For over 14 years after being diagnosed with full blown AIDS in 1988, I lived in denial that I had the disease. It was easy to do because I did not have any of the illness associated with HIV. I only shared my diagnosis with my wife; not my mother, four children, family or friends. It did not seem like a secret, unless I heard the conversations that you all were having about what you would do if you were diagnosed, and how you really felt about those who were HIV+. Damn!! Some of ya'll were cold hearted and just plain ignorant. Some of you still are! Fear will do that I guess.

Sure, I got depressed. I thought I was going to DIE SOON!! I was just starting to live! I had been clean and sober for about 4 years, after what seemed like an eternity of suffering in the throes of addiction to heroin and cocaine (among many other things...like sex). It took everything that I had, and all the praying that I could do, to "rise above the battlefield of life". I had to "Surrender To Heal" (Amazon.com) My wife, with whom I was pregnant, had had 3 years of unprotected sex. Thank God, she tested HIV negative, so she and the baby were fine. They still are...22 years later (Thank God!)

We did not even know we were stigmatized. If anyone had asked me, I probably would have told them my status. I tried to tell others by alluding to the fact that I was an IV drug user in the past. Nobody really wanted to know. No one really wanted to talk about it. I guess we all were affected by the stigma. As a result, I watched many friends and family suffer and die, looking just like this (and worst). Many more believed it could never happen to them, and if it did, they thought that they would just "kill themselves" before they had to go through this kind of suffering. Suicide is not that easy.

Having been blessed to survive addiction and be in recovery, I knew that miracles happen and I could live them! I worked hard to change my spirit, mind, emotions, and behaviors. I stopped smoking, eating meat, stressing, developed a positive attitude, and I lived my life to the fullest - one day at a time. Still, something was missing. I felt compelled to disclose to the world in an effort to engage others in this wonderful experiment I was having with life. After all, I felt blessed and highly favored and wanted everyone to have the benefit of the same. I decided to tell the world of my true experience by writing a book (Surrender To Heal - amazon.com) and whatever way I could.

My wife did not want that at all and we were headed towards divorce. We were both truamatized by the experience of living with HIV and did not know it. Even though I was doing very well health wise prior to my decision, the stress of disclosure caused me to get sick. My immune system is obviously tied to my emotions. The doctors said I would die in 3 days. I was resurrected by God's grace and mercy, and the love of family and friends. If I had not had already shared my love, status and truth with so many people, I would not have been able to get that love back. It came back 100 fold and I have been healed.

I was very disappointed that many...mostly all, still did (do) not hear my words or feel my love. Everyone is affected by HIV. Those who are fearful of what their own actions and lifestyels will bring, as well as those who have lost or still live with others who are HIV+, are living with trauma. I was not sure why God had me have my son videotape the ugly truth about what suffering with AIDS looks like, but I think now it may help many see it is easier to talk about the truth than to die living a lie. Watch the video.

There is hope. In order to access that hope you have to be willing to "participate in your own survival/salvation". If we don't, we will most certainly be complicit in our own demise. Stigma is being more concerned with what others think about you, than what you are about yourself or the truth. I know what the miracle of diminishing or eradicating stigma can do. HIV Anonymous, a 12-step global support group for those affected by HIV helped my wife and I evolve and grow together. She is still HIV negative, and we are still together after 25 years. I love her, and I love my life immensely.

We are engaged in WAR! You can play if you want, but there will be many casualties in this war and no one is immune (excuse the pun). Our immune system is our last line of defense. I have some healing solutions, and a network of others who have some too. You will never know if you are hiding your head in the sand thinking it won't happen to you, you know, like an ostrich. Even with your head in the sand, your ass is sticking way out. Don't let stigma, fear, apathy, and the rest of our enemies capture you. Join us in the WAR (Wellness, Awareness & Recovery)!

Enlist now!! Vote now for our cause. Visit www.RISE4WAR.com and vote for our cause in the Pepsi "Refresh Everything" contest for our health initiative to end the stigma surrounding HIV or donate. God loves you and so do I.

Vote here now!!!

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Posted via email from Reggie Smith's Posterous by SocialNetGate

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