“When I moved to Iowa six years ago I started up with Primary Health Care as my medical provider and for HIV Case management,” Roger said. “It didn’t take me long to realize that PHC was an awesome organization, and had everything I needed in one place. Coming from Florida where all of my care was fragmented I really appreciated it.”
Roger’s case manager at The Project told him about an opportunity to join the Consumer Advisory Board, to provide feedback to our team about his experience as a patient.
“I want to give back to my community because they have been giving back to me for so many years,” he said. In addition to his role as the Board President of Primary Health Care, Roger is also the president of Positive Iowans Taking Charge (PITCH), a group that creates opportunities for people living with HIV to connect. “I love the joy on someone’s face when they meet someone who is going through the same thing.”
Tuesday is National HIV and Aging Awareness Day. Roger spoke with our team about his journey living with HIV for almost thirty years, and how what it means to live with HIV has changed.
“In the beginning, many people were dying with HIV instead of living. Aging wasn’t an issue back when I was first diagnosed. Living longer was a foreign concept,” he said. “I never thought I would see 35, let alone 57.”
Since Roger was diagnosed, the HIV epidemic has changed dramatically. “The old way of thinking that HIV will eventually kill you, or that you can’t have relationships just isn’t true,” he said. “Today though living with HIV is like living with many other chronic conditions like diabetes. You take one pill a day and you forget about HIV. You are not someone living with HIV. You are just someone going about life in the world.”
“When I first got diagnosed while living in Massachusetts they only gave me two years to live,” said Roger. “Twenty-eight years later, I’m still here. I am 57, have a loving husband, and I am Chairman of the Board of Directors of Primary Health Care”
Learn more about the HIV Case management services available at The Project as well as prevention like PrEP and free and confidential HIV/STI testing.
Together we can end the stigma of living with HIV.