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There is just one more set of POZ contributors aside from the business folks without whom the magazine could not have existed, and that is the literally thousands of people, in the United States and abroad, who were not afraid to speak openly about their lives with HIV and show their faces in the pages of POZ to provide comfort, courage and wisdom to readers, to break down the stigma that thrives on silence and invisibility, to make us laugh, cry, relate and empathize.

The subjects in these stories—everyone from everyday people who beat the odds to headline-grabbing advocates who spoke truth to power—have inspired readers throughout the country to take action, be resilient and remain optimistic even in dark times. However, they serve as examples of the many diverse groups affected by HIV, including long-term survivors, transgender people, women, Latinos and African Americans. These are their stories. He experimented with herbs, stopped using street drugs and started taking Antabuse to combat his alcohol use disorder.

He also took massive amounts of antioxidants to restore sulfur-containing amino acids, and he learned everything he could about AIDS. However, its side effects were so terrible that many of those who took it stopped using it altogether. Like many people back then, Bingham relied instead on alternative treatments to fight the disease. But in , the professional horticulturist started using drugs and alcohol again and abandoned his health regimen. He experienced severe thrush and neuropathy, weight loss and stress. He was also diagnosed with dementia and wound up in the hospital with a CD4 count of Bingham requested AZT to help treat the neuropathy that was affecting his body even though now we know AZT causes neuropathy but soon stopped taking the medication because of its toxicity.

Once he got back on track, doctors were stunned to find that Bingham had reversed his condition. He operated it from his apartment. It was this do-it-yourself advocacy that the HIV community best remembered when he died in A Black HIV and transgender activist from San Francisco, Cauley was determined to make the health care system work for the transgender community.

Since the start of the epidemic, transgender people have had to fight to make their voices heard. In , POZ wrote its first extensive story on this population. The article highlighted alarming HIV rates in San Francisco among transgender African-American women as well as discrimination and other barriers to care faced by people of trans experience. The article also shone a light on Cauley, who began her transition in after leaving the Navy.

She turned to sex work before becoming addicted to crack cocaine and getting arrested while living in New York City. Cauley then fled to Indiana, where at the local Veterans Administration hospital she learned she had HIV—and doctors told her she had only five years to live. But Cauley continues to outlast her presumed expiration date. But Averitt really wanted to be a mother.

Then, in , the advent of effective antiretroviral ARV therapy for HIV meant that a mom with the virus no longer had to fear that her children would be orphaned in the near future. But was it safe to give birth? Averitt worried that the meds would be harmful to a fetus. Further research showed that HIV treatment combined with good health care and bottle-feeding guaranteed that 99 out of every women with HIV could become mothers with virtually no risk to their baby.

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So Averitt decided to become a mother. In June , she.

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If you let HIV be a tumor, an invader, a growth, then the burden is too heavy. Once it is a part of your life and not the sum total of your life , HIV becomes more manageable. Latimer, one of our cover subjects, is an HIV-positive minister and military vet who has relationships with men.

The South Carolina native grew up in a religious family and had known from childhood that he was attracted to men. He kept this hidden throughout his adolescence, causing him much pain. Latimer spent so much of his time at the hospital comforting those who were critically ill and had been abandoned that patients assumed he was a volunteer. However, Latimer still had his own demons to face. Struggling to process his HIV diagnosis, he turned to drugs and alcohol to help him cope.

But Latimer says God came to him one night and showed him his purpose. He soon quit drugs and studied to become a religious leader. Latimer went on to establish his own AIDS ministry and work closely with other pastors and faith leaders who have tested positive for the virus. Most important, he has traveled to Black churches and helped take on the difficult topic of HIV in their own congregations.

Stranger Than Fiction

He accomplishes this by sharing his own testimony and inspiring others to do the same. Eventually, he was switched to a day shift. When he complained about it to human resources, his supervisors retaliated against him. Then, in , after someone made an anonymous complaint about him, he was fired from his job. It was about telling his story and being heard.

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She is also one of nearly 4, American Indians and Alaska Natives estimated to be living with the virus. While in college, Cozad contracted the virus from her boyfriend, who was only her second sexual partner. A friend eventually convinced Cozad to get tested. It took. Following her diagnosis, she turned to her tribal elders for help.

They guided her through traditional healing ceremonies and overnight rites that lasted 12 to 15 hours.

These ceremonies, Cozad said, helped release her anger at HIV. For this, she credits not only her antiretroviral medication but also her spiritual advisers, who taught her how to approach the disease and her body in a positive manner. It has transformed my life. It has humbled me. When Vergel immigrated to the United States from Venezuela in , he had a lot of dreams and plans. But they were all cut short when he tested positive for HIV just three years later. He considered his diagnosis a death sentence. But Vergel never gave up.

Instead, he told POZ in , he became a certified HIV counselor who worked as a chemical engineer during the day and as a volunteer at a local clinic at night. The virus caused Vergel to experience HIV-associated wasting, so he turned to anabolic steroids to help him regain weight. His success led him to advocate for these drugs for people living with HIV. In , he cowrote Built to Survive, a guide to anabolic therapies, nutrition and exercise, and founded the Program for Wellness Restoration PoWer to help improve the quality of life for those with HIV.

Luckily, he began to take Trogarzo, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in for the treatment of multidrug-resistant HIV among people whose current regimen is failing. Since , Vergel has had an undetectable viral load.

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But he still has a low CD4 count. This has prompted him to join an activist coalition that pushes for the development of immune-boosting therapies to reduce health risks for immunologic nonresponders, or people with limited or no recovery of CD4s despite viral suppression. We really are useful and still relevant.

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PLUS: New testing options for drug resistance. May COVER: Exercise gives your health a boost by protecting your immune system and improving your appetite, energy and mood. INSIDE: How the fight for research funding is 5 playing out in the disease wars 5 ; are fusion inhibitors the next big thing, or will their development fizzle out? One year-old shares his story.

PLUS: Health officials flip-flop on antiretroviral treatment guidelines. Some activists are pushing to ban the glamorous face of AIDS many advertisers are selling 6. INSIDE: A lesson from Keith Haring on the art of dying; eight artists and activists on making death work for you; assisted suicide makes a controversial comeback 8.

PLUS: Congress takes on a queer barebacker. David Pasquarelli and Michael Petrelis. He and nine other mavericks, agitators and pioneers are changing the rules for treatment, prevention and activism 1. PLUS: The problem with protease inhibitors. COVER: Mark Leydorf is on a quest to get all the vitamins and other nutrients he needs with as few pills as possible 8.