Basic Realness

The basics of HIV are different for each person. Getting into care and staying on treatment are the beginning. The question we asked our followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:

What are the basics of your life with HIV?

“I’ve been living with HIV for so long that it really isn’t in and of itself a significant part of it (albeit, other than my HIV advocacy roles, which are my life). It’s now really the multi-morbidities that shape my life… and take so much of my energy. But the same things that are good for them are also good for any person living with HIV. My belief is that a person needs to feed the three important elements of oneself in order to thrive. Those elements are your body, mind, and soul. You aren’t truly whole unless you’re incorporating strategies to keep these parts of yourself in balance. So, my focus is on nutrition, exercise, love, laughter, helping others, expanding my mind (knowledge), music, arts, socializing, nature, and generally just following the things I’m passionate about.”

—Jeffery Parks

“As a woman senior my way of living positive is staying in treatment. Also, eating right, sleeping seven to eight hours a day, living life with a true mindset of spiritual healing, meditation, tai chi, yoga, and treating myself with love, family, friends. Living with HIV is healthy.”


“What’s basic for me living with HIV/AIDS is to never, ever give up! I remember the early 1980s and a time when there were no meds and we were most fearful. Volunteering and helping others who were struggling made me appreciate my own life. I sought out an AIDS-knowledgeable physician to give me a fighting chance. I attended support groups and made poz friends. I’ll always remember those who are gone forever reminding me to appreciate and enjoy every second! 40+ year poz survivor.”

—Arturo C. Jackson III

“My basics: 1. It’s daily. Each day, every choice I make is connected directly or indirectly to my HIV status. 2. It contributes to my creativity. I have a story to tell that is much more interesting because of what I have learned from living with AIDS. 3. It has made me a better person. I can be more empathetic because I have been there. I can be more grateful because I know what I could have lost. 4. I have a positive attitude about life. I believe my positive attitude is there because I have survived AIDS for over 30 years. The positive attitude also contributes to helping my body fight the virus. 5. I have a purpose. My experience in living with AIDS may help someone else, just like the experiences of others have helped me.”

—Harry C S Wingfield

“Adherence, labs, doctor discussions as a long-term survivor, and living life.”

—Larry Frampton

“Live every day to the fullest.”

—Derek Canas

“Always trust your instincts. Be proactive. Choose the best provider available.”

—Kathy Callaghan

“The basics of my HIV life start with ensuring I do my part to keep my viral load undetectable—one pill a day. The rest appears no different from a non-HIV living individual. Vitamins, some daily activity, and good food with good people.”

—Marissa Gonzalez

“HIV is a virus. I am a human. They are different. I live my life with HIV. It doesn’t run my life.”

—Bridgette Picou

“One pill per day. Two doctor visits per year for labs and monitoring. Otherwise, live my life and my HIV goes along for the ride.”

—Xio Mora-Lopez