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Homelessness with HIV


April 23, 2003, is a birthday I will never forget. It was the day I received my diagnosis of being HIV-positive. I was separated from my wife who has now passed from the virus and lung cancer. The cancer had spread to four of her ribs which doctors removed and onto her spine of which could not be removed for fear of paralyzing her.

Now imagine receiving such news on your birthday -- news of a disease that at the time was cloaked in misinformation and stigma. I thought I would die.

Let me say that I was homeless living in a shelter. I later contracted scarlet fever during my stay. Today I am still homeless, a widower on welfare while suffering from depression, PTSD, and now Neuropathy along with several other medical issues.

February 25, 2010, will be a year of my wife passing and not a day goes by that I don't wake up with a tear in my eye. I have trouble sleeping due to pains in the legs and numbness in the hands. Though I am undetectable, I now suffer from fatigue. Being homeless is like not having a base of action. I don't eat like I should and don't feel like I rest well at night. I have spent a lot of time in mental health therapy because of problems with depression and still grieving from the loss of my wife.

I have tried to work, but my medications have a lasting effect and I feel tired all day. In order to get housing I will have to risk going back into a shelter. It's like playing roulette with my health because the shelter in not a germ-friendly environment for a person with the virus. This is another shot to my overall well-being. I could go on, but housing is prevention and health care. In a lot of ways housing is the most unmet service for people living with HIV.

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