Advice from a Caregiver: Part 4

Today we conclude our “Advice from a Caregiver” series and our final question is about the importance of educating others about HIV. One caregiver shares how HIV doesn’t discriminate and it can affect anyone both directly and indirectly. As we conclude this series let us think about how we can work to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS so that we too can be supportive friends, and advocates

What message do you share when educating others?

“You can learn a lot from people with HIV. I think no matter what, education is key. You see their perseverance and how they deal with life, dealing with the stigma and what they are able to overcome. It should be your number one goal to reduce that stigma because HIV can affect anyone. That’s my message when I go out and talk about HIV. I say that it can affect anyone, you are not out of the range [of infection], and no one is invincible. HIV/AIDS doesn’t discriminate and it could be your friend, your brother, your sister, your mom or your dad. Anyone in your life can get it! How are you going to react to that?”

Do you have any extra tips on how to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS? Share with us your thoughts and comments below!

Click on the links to see PART 1, PART2, or PART 3!

Overcoming

Today we continue with our “Overcoming Series” and learn how LTAI members cope with their day-to-day challenges. It is important to find what works for you so that you can have a strategy to fight through the challenges. If you missed the last “Overcoming” post you can check it out HERE!

“I stop and reflect about how much I do have – friends, family, that I can always turn to.”

“I overcome my challenges by sticking them out and seeing them through until their end.

Let us know how you deal with your daily challenges by leaving us a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

 

Advice from a Caregiver: Part 3

In Part 3 of our “Advice from a Caregiver” series, we learn the importance of support groups and advocacy.

Support activities aren’t just for HIV positive people. They can be very helpful for family members as well. Participating in support groups and advocating can help tremendously in the fight against HIV and make you feel like you are not alone!

Are you involved in HIV support activities?

Some may think, “Oh, HIV is not going to affect me,” but it does. It’s very scary and it saddens me. That’s the motivation behind what I do and why I go to support groups — to show other HIV positive people, especially women, that there are people out there that aren’t HIV positive that are affected, do care and will fight along with them. That’s what I think is most important about being a caregiver, showing that you will support them, that they’re not in it alone.

What do you do to advocate for HIV? Where do you find support? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below!

To see PART 1 and PART 2 click here!

Insensitive

This inspiring post was written by one of our LTAI blog readers, Ellen. She shares her past experiences with health care providers and the impact it’s had on her.

Insensitive

I was infected by a blood transfusion 29 years ago. One of the doctors said, “It’s a good thing it didn’t happen to too many people”. Another doctor said “We used to take AIDS patients and put them in a room and not bother with them”. A risk management specialist said, “Don’t tell anyone. No doctor will treat you”. These are just a few of the comments from way back when I first found out, but they still hurt. Don’t let anyone of any institution intimidate you if you are infected. If we all stand together we can stop this “bullying” for good.

Write us if you also have experienced this type of behavior from others.

Feel free to submit it through our Suggestion/Submission Box. We’d love to post it!

Overcoming

Today we continue to share some tips and strategies from our LTAI members as part of our “Overcoming” series. One of our members turns to prayer and meditation when things get tough, and it gives her the strength she needs to overcome her challenges! If you missed the last “Overcoming” post you can check it out HERE! Here is what she has to say:

“Prayer-medication. Get feedback. I tend to make mountains out of molehills and distort the reality in a millisecond. I use the feedback to make a decision toward solution. Sometimes it’s to not do anything at all. Sometimes it’s a giant leap of faith into an “uncomfort zone.” I try to be courageous no matter what. “

Look for more great tips in our upcoming blog posts and don’t forget to subscribe below!

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Advice from a Caregiver: PART 2

Today we continue with part 2 of our “Advice from a Caregiver” series. Our LTAI care giving member shares how her relationship with her sister has progressed and what she does to support and encourage her. She emphasizes the importance of knowing how to listen, something that can make a big difference in everyone’s life. Click HERE to read Part 1!

When did you become informed about HIV?

It wasn’t until now while in college that I have become more educated and interested in HIV. It takes knowledge to know that HIV can be managed and controlled. Don’t put everyone in a box. HIV affects everyone.

How has your relationship with your sister progressed?

If you find out a family member has HIV, you should not only console them and make sure that they are alright, but also ask them questions as they are getting treatment. Observe and listen. I observe if my sister is getting sick or if she isn’t feeling well, I make sure to give her extra care. I say “Ok, make sure you do this or do that.” I also run errands for her if she needs any help because stress affects your immune system, so I try to do anything I can to reduce her stress. I also listen to her. That’s another thing, being able to listen to them, which you should always do.

Do you have any listening skills and tips that you would like to share? Leave a comment below!

Making Change in a Small Way

Here at LTAI, we emphasize the importance of advocacy in your community. One of our LTAI members shares how she is making a change in her small community by changing people’s misconceptions of HIV. Remember, no matter how small the change, it is change nonetheless and it can have a huge impact!

“I live in a small city where the people are so set in their ways and their thinking is pre-historic. They believe that if they were to just touch someone with HIV/AIDS they will get infected.

There is little to no counseling here, let alone a place to go get tested, except to a family doctor. I have been open about my status since I found out in July 2007, after I was given over 32 units of blood before they found a tumor in my stomach and liver. For the record, I go out of my way to tell people. If I cut myself and I start to bleed, I ask for alcohol and a bandage and tell them that I have HIV.

I have a wonderful doctor that I can talk to and a staff of nurses that are great too. But I live by a saying, “HIV/AIDS, I have it, but it doesn’t have me.” Because, if you sit on your backside and cry “Why me?” – you will miss out on the finer things in life. I live for my kids and maybe one day my little backwoods town will catch up to the 21st century.

My new goal in life now is to get more people to understand that when you touch, hug or even kiss someone with HIV or AIDS, they will not get it.

Well, I will be going to the city council as soon as I can to get on the docket and see what I can do to get people more involved. Wish me luck!”

Any words of support you’d like to share? Send a comment today!

Advice from a Caregiver: PART 1

Today we start a new 4 part series in our blog titled “Advice from a Caregiver”. Throughout this series we will share one of our LTAI caregiving members’ experience with HIV and how she supports and cares for her sister. Finding out that a family member has HIV can be very frightening but with education, patience, and perseverance, you can be there to the fullest for your loved one.

What advice would you share with people who have family members that are HIV positive?

I would say they need to be understanding, not judgmental and to get educated. I was about 13 when I found out my sister was diagnosed with AIDS. I didn’t know anything about HIV, so I had a lot of misconceptions. When I found out she had the disease I thought she was going to die, and I now know that’s not the case.

You can hurt your family member’s feelings if you are doing certain things …[actions that are perceived wrong], like stigma. Remember, you can’t catch HIV by touching, hugging or sharing utensils. It can hurt their feelings, more than you can know, if you act like that. The most important thing is to show them love. Just because they have HIV doesn’t mean they change as a person. It is just something they have to handle. They are still your family, so get educated. Personally, for me with my sister, even I still need to get more informed.

What advice can you share? Check back soon for PART 2 of Advice from a Caregiver!

 

Overcoming

Today we share some strategies and tips on how LTAI members overcome challenges in their lives as part of our “Overcoming” Series. These challenges and tough situations are all around us, but how we handle them makes all the difference!

Here is what they have to say…

“By analyzing the situation, whatever it may be. Then imagine a different outcome that may occur and choosing the one that best suits the situation.”

“Face them head on. Own up, apologize, fess up, move on!”

Look for more great suggestions in our upcoming blog posts and don’t forget to subscribe below!

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Facing Disclosure

When I was first diagnosed with HIV in August of 1996, I was 29, hooked on drugs and alcohol. I thought I was handed a death sentence; I hid my status for 13 years. Sometimes I felt that I was not worthy to live. I carried on as if I didn’t have it. I’d hide doctor’s appointments and rip labels off my medications, stashing them deep in my closet.

One day, after a three-day crack binge, I decided to get sober. I went into Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Step program of recovery. It was during my 4th step of Alcoholics Anonymous that I revealed my status to my sponsor. She is Hepatitis-C positive and I felt somewhat safe. She didn’t run away. Instead, she gently hugged me while crooning how much she loved me until the tears were spent. She suggested reaching out and finding others like me. That was February 5th, 2010. I continued to disclose, one by one, and had many positive experiences. So, I disclosed at a 12 step meeting with a desire to help others in the rooms. The following day, after my disclosure, I had two phone calls from that meeting. One girlfriend said “I am so proud of you and want you to know that you are always welcome in my house.” The next call was similar, except this woman was Hepatitis-C positive and had been hiding it for years. She wanted care, but was emotionally broke! It was a relief to put my fears away and trust in God. I was even able to help her!

If, or when, I meet someone ugly or cruel to me, I realize that person is the loser, not I! This is a good day in the world of HIV. I often feel grateful to have contracted this virus, especially after my rapid disclosure. I organized my priorities; my motives are pure. I want to help others and I had to get myself out of the way! This took two years!

What’s the bottom line? Everyone must move at their own speed; fear can stop us! I’ve turned fear into courage. Life IS good.