My wife got HIV back in the 80’s. She got the old treatment for HIV, called AZT, and it didn’t really work that well for her. After she passed away, it was really hard for me. I found out I was positive for HIV, too, but I didn’t even start treatment for it. I didn’t have the strength to. I ended up drinking a lot and lost my job, and I’ve been living on the street since then. When I moved to New Orleans years later, I started getting sick a lot and not feeling good. The HIV had never affected me like that before, so I knew it was time to get some help with getting on some meds.
It’s hard to get a house or stable place to stay, or to find transportation to my doctor’s appointments, and you just see so many sick people around you. Though all these things were hard to get over, I finally made an appointment with a doctor and I am going to go. They said they will send a ride for me to get there for free and everything. They also explained how much better the medications work now when I asked questions. I’m nervous, but actually relieved that there is somewhere I can go for help.
Dante'’s story is one of our HIV Testing & Prevention program’s "Role Model Stories” in which real people describe how they made a change to reduce their risk and improve their health as it relates to HIV and AIDS. Names have been changed and the images are staged with actors.