Before the first issue of HIV Positive! magazine was published 17-years ago, the cornerstone concept for the editorial was our Positive Profile. The Positive Profile person exemplified our magazine as a whole by telling the story of someone who was HIV-positive yet not letting that stand in the way of fulfilling lifelong dreams, helping others or doing anything they want to do in life.
For this issue, for the first time, we decided to go back in time just a bit and cherry-pick a handful of past Positive Profile people so you can see how many positive and inspirational people there are out there who are not letting HIV stop them for a single second.
Michelle said, “I was third runner up again in 2011 and one of the reasons I decided to compete again was to disclose my HIV status. The Pageant Director told me that was a first and asked if I would like to compete on the national level for Miss Plus America?” “I got to the top 5 contestants and they started calling the names of the runners-up, one-by-one. It was down to me and one other girl and they called my name. I didn’t think I had won and then I realized I had.” Michelle says, “I just didn’t win that night – Every HIV positive woman won that night!”
Michelle didn’t just stop the accomplishments with the Miss Plus America crown either. On May 11th, 2013 she graduated from Eastfield College with an Associates Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling. She planned to go on to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
Sam also became involved in the Health Options and Positive Energy foundation of Washington D.C. (HOPE D.C.) an all-volunteer organization that serves the HIV positive community in the Washington, D.C. area. He took advantage of their peer-to-peer contact, counseling and discussions.
Sam works at a firehouse in Northern Virginia as a paramedic. He said, “I’ve been at the firehouse for years now. I came out a year ago. The guys here always have my back; they’re a second family. In a firehouse, it’s like a family. I work 48-hour shifts so I actually see more of them than my real family.”
Sam’s advice to someone newly diagnosed is, “It’s not the end of the world. Don’t let it ruin your life. Find somebody your own age that is positive or find a mentor. You need support. I went 1-year without support and I was miserable.”
Maria began to travel to promote Souls Of My Sisters and found that it helped to talk about it - it made her stronger. She began to become an advocate and educator.
She also got back to the entertainment industry that she had left and through hard work has become known as one of New York’s premiere promoters. She produced, directed and promoted her newly created, legendary music showcases held at the Shrine in Harlem, known as “Mad Wednesday’s,” which provide venues for signed and unsigned R&B and hip-hop artists and comedians who have had no other performance options. Through this work, Maria has created an outlet for young people to express themselves artistically.
He started treatment immediately and was considered undetectable by the standards the military sets just over 1-year after diagnosis.
Mike was a Petty Officer First Class and recruiter with the U.S. Coast Guard. Entering the Coast Guard on June 11th, 1996, he was on his 18th-year when profiled and planned to retire after his 20th. Thanks to his long time dedication to running and his medication, he’s doing just fine.
His advice to someone newly diagnosed is: Reach Out! “I felt like it was news I couldn’t share with anybody else. I started drinking heavily for about the first month – I didn’t tell anybody. When I did, it was a good friend and he told a lot of people. He betrayed my trust. I felt it was my story to tell not his. I then told another friend and it was a good choice. If you don’t want to open up to a friend immediately, even call a crisis prevention line but reach out!”
She also started immersing herself in her art. In a 4-month period she made over 130 sculptures that were mostly scenes from her life. They helped her move through her feelings. She was encouraged to start showing her art and began at Visual AIDS, a New York based organization dedicated to supporting HIV positive artists, where her work won a $1,000 prize and a spot on their calendar. She also had her first showing at her church.
“My pastor introduced me as the artist and wanted me to explain one of my pictures. As he waited for me to explain, I don’t know what came over me but I told the whole church that I had been a prostitute and was HIV positive. A hush fell over…and then everybody stood up and clapped, then a line formed and everybody…my pastor and family included, kissed and hugged me. The love just blew my mind.” Said Joyce.
If you would like to read their full stories and see the stories of many other Positive Profiles, please visit: www.hivpositivemagazine.com/profiles.html.
Copyright 2018, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!