The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

Living With AIDS

In honor of World AIDS Day, December 1.

January 10, 2012 was a day that changed Manny’s life forever. On this day, Manny received his test results that showed he tested positive for HIV.

“I was shocked,” Manny said. “It felt like I got hit by a truck, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Manny moved to Pennsylvania in order to escape a negative past and start a new life.

Manny’s past relation to gangs, unprotected sex and injected drug use played a role in his contraction of HIV.

“I had a bad history, and I wanted to start new.”

Shortly after he moved to Pennsylvania, Manny heard hearsay that his past partners were HIV positive.

“I always thought I was untouchable, so I knew I had to get tested to prove myself wrong,” explained Manny.

Manny proceeded to get tested at the Wilkes-Barre City Department of Health. After his results came back positive for HIV, Manny then struggled with the decision of telling people. His girlfriend and children are a very important part of his life, and he struggled with the decision on whether to keep it a secret or tell his girlfriend and his children about his results. He feared the reaction of his family and friends. He did not want to be looked at differently or treated different because he was now HIV positive.

“I decided to stop thinking about myself and started by telling my kids. I came to Pennsylvania for a reason and knew I needed a change for the better. I can roll with the punches. I know it’s not a death sentence [his diagnosis],” Manny said.

Manny knew he needed to be educated and treated for his diagnosis. This inspired him to seek help at the Wyoming Valley Aids Council, where he met Megan, a nurse that guided him through the beginning steps of treatment. It was a good first step to motivating him and helped him to start accepting and talking about his diagnosis. A big part of his treatment is taking daily medication, and it is one of the most life-altering effects of the diagnosis. Due to the effects of the medication, Manny has missed out on some important things in his life. One of the effects is drowsiness, which prevents Manny from staying up late to watch movies with his son and staying up until midnight to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. In addition, he is not allowed to consume alcohol with this medication which caused him to miss out on the celebration of his daughter’s birthday.

A combination of the medicine and the diagnosis has caused him to become depressed. Part of his therapy includes talking to other people and educating them about HIV.

Manny often has to deal with listening to stereotypes that are directed at him. People are often afraid to shake hands with him because they are afraid they will become infected if they come in contact with him. This inspired Manny to reach out to other people to help them become educated about HIV and AIDS.

“I was unaware, myself,” Manny said. “I thought HIV was only caused by men having intercourse with men.”

Manny encourages everyone who has ever had unprotected intercourse to get tested and to use protection.

“I didn’t like to use condoms, and I assumed that my partner already got tested,” he explained. “Now, I have to tell my children “Do as I say, not what I do.”

This experience has caused Manny to develop a positive view on life and be grateful for being alive. He now accepts his diagnosis and takes his medication daily.

“I am living with HIV,” Manny said. “HIV is not living with me.”