Wednesday, February 20, 2013

HIV is not a gift. HIV is an opportunity.

In my travels, I have heard that some people, as a result of their economic situation, have actually wanted to and tried hard to contract HIV so that they would be eligible for the social services that would not ordinarily be afforded them if they were not HIV positive.  In that regard they refer to HIV as " the gift".


Looking at this phenomena from a material perspective, it seems deplorable that there are conditions that people live in that encourage this type of behavior and thought, but the way our society is set up makes our unmet needs a real catalyst for this type of decision.  The problem of satisfying our needs of eating and having shelter are very real, and many are challenged to meet them based on the circumstances in which they live.  There are so many factors that go into creating the situations that makes this a problem in an abundant world that I will not begin to itemize them, but suffice it to say that it is the case.


Our goal, in this case, is "Getting to Zero" in new HIV infections, which would indicate (at that point) that we have "outsmarted" the HIV virus. What we have found as a result of the experiences of many long term survivors of this WAR is that positive thought and action play an important part in our spiritual and mental wellness.  As a result of positive thought, our physical wellness is enhanced. So it is in our interest to look at some of the tactics and strategies that we should consider employing in order to achieve our goal of  changing our thinking and speaking in order to get to zero new infections.  I submit that changing the way we look at HIV from a spiritual and mental perspective will be an important weapon or tool in our arsenal, and it is one that helps solve many of the issues that are at the core of those things that keep us from satisfying our basic needs too!


Instead of looking at HIV as "the gift", we can consider HIV as an opportunity.  A opportunity for what you ask?  A opportunity for wisdom, self awareness, service, improved self discipline, and many other thoughts and actions that would help raise our individual vibrations, and thereby the vibratory rate of the planet.  In other words, we could tap into that God energy that is seemingly necessary in order to RISE above the battlefield of life! 


Those of us who have had the experience of being a host to the HIV retrovirus have been forced to focus on the decision making process that went into creating this new reality in which we live as individuals and as a part of the collective.  This retrovirus has forced us to understand some of the patterns that result in suffering and death IF we resist the changes in our thoughts and actions.  Using drugs, exchanging bodily fluids, stress, poor nutrition, being unforgiving, and not giving and receiving love are all contributing to the proliferation of the disease.  They are also circumstances and behaviors that would seem to be beyond the medical or scientific community's ability to change.  science and medicine have played, and continue to play an important role in us reaching our goal of getting to zero new infections, but we have seemingly reached a plateau.  now we need new strategies and tactics.  we need employ new wisdoms. 


When we are courageous enough to live honestly in that reality, meaning when we are able to disclose our situation to ourselves and other so that we are truly living in the flow of life, we become a part of a higher vibration.   That higher vibration seems to have an important effect on individual physical wellness.  It also has assisted in the evolution of thinking about HIV, and has helped to diminish the fear of, grow the knowledge about, and help develop solutions for changed behavior as it pertains to HIV.  It just so happens that the same process and strategies we have used in this instance can be replicated in every area of our lives!


For those who are interested in preventing contracting HIV, knowledge is powerful. But, knowledge applied is wisdom.  Fear can be a useful tool as well as long as it does not keep us "stuck on stupid"!  Preventing or living with HIV is a challenge for us all.  Providing for our basic needs such as food, shelter, sex and clothing present some of the same challenges. In our effort to satisfy those needs, it is not surprising to me that some would go as far as to consider, and even attempt to become a host to the HIV retrovirus for the purpose of getting access to resources that are not available to all.  I think it is crazy that in a world that is as abundant as the one we live in, that there are so many that are living without, but that is another story for another time.


 I am simply saying that what some have called "the gift", can more effectively be identified as "the opportunity" if we truly want to gain the new perspective needed in order to be "Getting to Zero" new HIV infections.  Let's take this opportunity to practice the behaviors like deciding to use condoms, or employ harm reduction methods like needle exchange, or living authentically and not allowing shame and stigma to cause the kind of stress that makes people more susceptible to transmit HIV, and situations more likely where HIV will find new a host. I know that when we do that, we will be in the final stages of an era, and at the dawning of a new beginning in which we as a human race acknowledge that love heals all.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M)

As an HIV advocate, I, and others, sometimes have to try to make living with HIV look easy and doable.  For me, most of the positive self-talk and resulting positive public image that it helps me put on the face of being a person living with HIV is good for my spirit and health, and hopefully useful for those who might need to know that wellness is possible in spite of our seemingly dire dilemma.  In fact, for those of us who have come to understand that in this system of capitalism, our life stories are one of our most valuable commodities.  Our ability to position ourselves to market our stories, and any other creditable, useful information that our experience has garnered, can directly influence our ability to capitalize monetarily on that valuable information.  Like my good friend Luther Brock says, “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!”

This may sound a bit cold and calculating in light of the nature of the seriousness that HIV and AIDS represent, but that seriousness is what makes the experience and the story even more valuable.  In this society where “reality” shows and real life dramas dominate, and where fear is the predominate energy behind many unique selling propositions (see gun sales), a good redemption story that can touch the hearts of many. A touching life story of the young girl unknowingly infected by the dastardly bastard who didn’t tell her he had the virus, or the “Lazarus-like” resurrection of the AIDS patient who cheated death after beginning treatment are drama filled stories, both stoking the fears of personal consequence and igniting the hopes of those afflicted.  Real life stories like these can definitely be effectively sold (see books below).  The fact is, if you are in this life situation, or any other for that matter, where you health and quality of life depend on how much money you have, you better get creative about how you are going to survive in this system of capitalism because your life depends on it!  

In capitalistic systems like the one we live in, even though we have “lifesaving” medicines, if you can’t pay for them, or can’t pay the co-pay, you may not get them. Life enhancing therapies cost money.  Serving our people by going to conferences and other speaking engagements cost money, and many times we are asked to do these events on our own dime, or for less than what is paid to others in similar, yet less dire situations.  Sometimes the money is there to pay us well, but somehow the value of our stories ends up being diminished by the need to feed “Capitalism” and the machine that makes it run.

 Sure, you may be blessed to have fallen (more likely crawled) into the social safety net of social security, but for the most part that simply takes care of your basic needs.  If you  want to really live well, you are going to have to make a few more dollars than that, and if you are living with a scary disease like HIV, you may not be able to work, so you need to know that the truth about your life experiences has redeeming value.  You just have to figure out how to market it AND get paid fairly, because in “Capitalism” most people are trying to get rich by employing cheap labor.  The dirty little secret is that like everything else, the HIV industry is big business too.  It may, for many, be a business born from altruism, but it IS big business nonetheless.  If you doubt that, ask yourself how your livelihood and cash flow would be affected if there was a cure found today?

So, let’s all be honest about what is really the common denominator of our motivations in a capitalistic society such as the one in which we live.  It may seem like a cold calculation at first, but when you divide it with the warmth of empathy, love, and concern for our fellow man, still get a great book or movie (cue the music) that could help someone through or around an experience like mine.  Living with HIV is NOT easy.  Life is not easy.  If something I can share can help you or anyone, my life has gained great intrinsic value as a result.  Unfortunately, cash rules everything around me (C.R.E.A.M) so I’m gonna have to do like everybody else and figure out how to get paid in the process, so I can keep doing the other stuff I like to do.  If you have a story about living with, around or in fear of HIV, you might want to do likewise.  Together, the 99% of us with the stories might someday get or create what we are truly worth.

Please support authors who are sharing their lives living with HIV with you.

“Surrender To Heal” - 7 Ways to Rise Above the Battlefield of Lifeby Reggie Smith

“From The Crack House to the White House” - by Denise Stokes

“I’m Still Here”  - by Venus Perez  

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