Posts Tagged ‘HIV’

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This past week, I ran into an individual I hadn’t seen in a coon’s age. We’d worked together years ago and since, we’d lost contact. It was wonderful to see her again. We caught up on the details of our lives since we’d last seen one another. She asked about the rumor she’d heard I’d been ill several years earlier. I told her I had been diagnosed with AIDS.

Her response took me by surprise. “Well, thank goodness you’re cured.”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

My friend thought because she’d not heard of AIDS on the TV or read about it in the papers, the virus was cured. She’d heard about a once-a-day pill people took to prevent contracting AIDS, and she assumed that was a cure-all for AIDS.

Out of sight – out of mind. Because the media doesn’t report on HIV/AIDS as they once did, the general population believes HIV/AIDS must not exist any longer. Also, too many people have assumed that HIV/AIDS was cured since introducing Truvada (the little blue pill) which prevents an individual from acquiring HIV.

My friend brought up the fact I didn’t look sick, therefore, I couldn’t have AIDS. It hadn’t occurred to her that over the years major strides have occurred in HIV medications. Today a person can live with HIV/AIDS without exhibiting physical manifestations, that is if they have access to proper medical services, take expensive medications, and care for themselves.

The visit with my friend was educational. I was aware of the need to educate on HIV/AIDS prevention, but there is also a need to educate the general population of the broader picture of where HIV/AIDS research is today.

For 43 years, HIV/AIDS had been a cloud over my life. In the early 80’s the media had convinced me that because I was a gay male, I would die of HIV/AIDS. I believed that was my fate until AIDS became a reality for me. After my diagnosis, my fight was on to beat this virus. Since then I’ve been actively involved to battle the stigma of living with the virus and to do what I can to encourage research, education, and to assist others struggling with the day-to-day challenges of living with HIV/AIDS.

That is why I’m passionate about supporting the central Texas AIDS Service Organizations to continue doing the fabulous work they do. For them to continue to provide the greatly needed services to assist central Texans affected with HIV/AIDS.

This past October was a wake-up call for the HIV/AIDS community when one of the 10 central Texas AIDS service organizations permanently closed their doors. For 26 years, this organization had provided non-medical support to central Texans living with HIV/AIDS. I was one of their many clients. The organization’s board cited “funding challenges” as their reason for closing. This can not be the future for the remaining 9 agencies. The reality is that without funding, the AIDS Service organizations cannot continue to provide low or no-cost services to the HIV/AIDS community that depends on them.

Next Saturday the 19th annual Hill Country Ride for AIDS will occur. HCRA is the largest AIDS fundraising event in central Texas, benefiting 9 central Texas AIDS service organizations. I’m not physically able to ride a bicycle, but that’s not stopped me from participating as a VIRTUAL RIDER to help raise awareness that new HIV/AIDS infections are still on the rise AND to ask YOU to help me reach my goal of $1000 for Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Please share the LOVE and donate to assist central Texans affected by HIV/AIDS.

Share the LOVE  NOW by donating here:
https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

#HCRA2018

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“Dale, who has been diagnosed with AIDS,
is one of Travis County’s most well-known AIDS activist”
Central Health Austin

Like many writers, I write to work through my own personal challenges. Some of those challenges may include physical limitations, some are mental, some are emotional. Other writers work through the nightmares of their own personal demons. I write to temporarily escape my own challenges, to create something that hopefully will take the reader outside of themselves.

There was a time, in 2012 when I first received my HIV-Stage 3 (AIDS) diagnosis when I desperately needed an escape from my reality. That initial year, my hospital expenses exceeded a half million dollars and my medications totaled over $75,000. On top of being too ill to care for myself, I had the added burden of how would I pay for the life-saving treatment I was receiving. My reality was crushing down on me.

This is not uncommon for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Many, like myself, face homelessness, hunger, lack of transportation, inability to pay for medications and doctors. That’s where the AIDS Service Organizations in Austin come to the rescue to help persons living with HIV to navigate the life-saving services they need. Nine AIDS Service Organizations serve individuals living in and around Austin, TX. But they can not help those in need without funding.

April 28 is the 19th annual Hill Country Ride for AIDS, the largest HIV/AIDS fundraising event in central Texas. Hundreds of bicycle riders take to the trails to raise funds which directly benefit NINE local AIDS/HIV Service Organizations. The very organizations which have helped me and thousands of central Texans affected with HIV/AIDS.

I’m physically unable to participate in the ride as a bike rider, but I am committed to helping raise funds so the NINE AIDS Service organizations can continue to provide life-saving services to assist all of us living with HIV/AIDS.

I’m asking for YOUR help — to make a contribution to the HILL COUNTRY RIDE FOR AIDS.

Fact: without these service organizations, I would not be here today. Please, join me by showing your appreciation for the awesome work they do, by making a generous contribution. You can make a donation safely online through this link: https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

Thank YOU for sharing the LOVE!!!❤️❤️❤️

#HCRA2018

“Despite occasional health challenges of living with AIDS, Dale finds strength and unending energy in the countless opportunities he creates to help others. Dale is a force for good guided by unrelenting principles, thankfulness, and a tireless drive to make a difference in the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS.” – Prentiss Douthit, Ride Director, Hill Country Ride for AIDS

Some of the many outstanding individuals who have made an impact on my life:
(1) Sir Elton John; (2) Elizabeth Taylor; (3) Earvin “Magic” Johnson; (4) Mikhail Carreon Taggueg, Founder/ HIV advocate/ HIV Counselor at The Cagayan Valley Support System; (5) Rock Hudson; (6)Prentiss Douthit, Hill Country Ride for AIDS Ride Director; (7) standing: Glenda Whitehead, Gwen Kingery, Maxine Carstedt, seated: Barbara Graham. Not pictured: Linden Zimmerman; (8) Edgar Gierbolini, Development Director at Care Communities and Ken Martin, Executive Director at Care Communities; (9) David Powell, founder of the David Powell (HIV) Clinic, Austin, Tx; (10) Greg Revenj, HIV Advocate; (11) Ryan White

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Each and every day I encounter people living with an HIV diagnosis who have resigned themselves to sit hour after hour in front of the television waiting to die. They have convinced themselves they’re too sick to step foot out of doors to enjoy the world around them. These individuals rarely socialize with others outside of their close HIV circle of friends. Somewhere, they have lost their desire to live, instead they simply exist until the virus takes them to the next dimension. My heart bleeds for those once active and productive individuals who succumbed to the perception that their lives were over when they received their HIV diagnosis.

Nearly four years ago, I received my HIV diagnosis along with what the doctor referred to as “full-blown AIDS.” Immediately, I begun medical treatment. The first year wasn’t pleasant as my body rejected the myriad of chemicals forced on it. But once my body became tolerant to the medications I wanted to resume living again. Slowly I became involved with activities in the outside world, I learned and accepted my limitations. I searched out opportunities to volunteer my time. It didn’t take long before my monthly planner became and stayed full with activities that benefited the HIV community. I consciously remind and schedule time to care for myself. I’m LIVING and not just existing. All of us will die someday, we have no idea when or where, but I’m not willing to resign myself to the ritual of waiting for the inevitable. Inactivity and negative thinking do nothing positive for the person with an HIV diagnosis.

Every community offers opportunities to give-back to the community which has assisted the individual living with HIV. My advice for any person with HIV is to volunteer in your local community take a class at the community college, participate in a crafting workshop, join a book club, take a walk, feed the ducks or geese… just return to the world of the LIVING. You have talents and ideas to share with others, become productive, rejoin and contribute to the world around you. HIV is a controllable virus, not a death sentence. Stand up to HIV and let the world see YOU for who you are … a beautiful, caring human being with an extraordinary soul. Celebrate the wonderful gift you were given … the gift of LIFE.

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Since receiving my HIV/AIDS diagnosis on December 1, 2012, I’ve looked back at how many people have helped get me to where I am today. It’s said that it takes a “village” to assist a person with HIV. I’ll attempt to identify the people of my “village”:

21 medical doctors and medical specialists have and/or are currently treating my symptoms.

1 primary care physician, since the original diagnosis, an infectious disease doctor specializing in HIV/AIDS.

4 hospitals, with countless nurses, nurse techs, lab techs, food service and housekeepers.

2 stays in Intensive Care Units with around the clock nurses.

5 testing facilities for numerous x-rays, MRI’s, other type of scans and lab work.

8 out of town blood labs that analysis blood draws.

City, County, State and Federal agencies that coordinate medical, health and basic living accommodations.

4 case managers and countless counselors guiding my every step

1 Federal Judge who presided over my Social Security Disability Appeals Hearing, and the court reporter and occupational therapist.

5 Care Team members who have/are volunteer their time to guarantee I get to and from my appointments, run errands and a receptive ear when I feel lost.

1 in-home nurse who visits every other week to make sure I am receiving the best care possible and that my basic and medical needs are being met.

28+ friends living with HIV who share their fears, tears, disappointments and frustrations of living with HIV.

4 Austin AIDS Service Organizations and their staffs who give their all to do whatever they can to make my quality of life better.

Newspaper, TV, photographers, reporters and magazine staffs who have given me the opportunity to let my voice be heard so to share my story of hope to others.

Thousands of faceless, nameless individuals who freely and compassionately give of their time, talents and money supporting the many organizations and services I depend on daily.

Countless Pharmacists who fill my 22 prescriptions and followup with instructions of how and when to take my meds.

1 dietitian and 1 nutritionist to guide my daily nutritional needs. 

1 Physical therapist

2 Lawyers and a number of legal aids who assisted in my appeals for SS Disability

Countless friends, who are my daily strength and encouragement, empowering me to see my dreams.

??? How many others I can’t recall right now.

As you can surmise, I’ve been blessed with more than a “village”, but an entire “CITY”, one that has and continues to support my fight with HIV/AIDS. I’m so very grateful for my “CITY” and thankful that they have and will continue to be there for me. That’s a whole lot of gratitude I owe to thank my “CITY”. I can’t possibly thank everyone, but what I can do is volunteer my time, dedication, passion and efforts to educate and share my story. With my voice I’m able to extend my gratitude, to GIVE BACK to my “CITY” by doing my small part towards making our world free of HIV.

That’s why I became an HIV/AIDS Advocate.