SAVE, Inc. Provides Compassionate Care to Those With HIV/AIDS
“Andrew” is no longer on a program through SAVE, Inc. He received help when he needed it most, then moved on about two years ago. Here, Andrew discusses his reaction to finding out about contracting HIV, his hopes for the future and plans to help others battle the infection.
How did you get involved with SAVE, Inc.?
I was introduced through KC Free Health Clinic. At the time, I was very nervous and scared. I was overwhelmed when I found out that I had HIV — it was the worst news ever. I was embarrassed to the max, and was really sick.
Then the illness started taking over my life. I lost my job, then my apartment and had nowhere to go.
My case manager at KC Free Health Clinic told me, “I am going to help you get out of this situation,” and she got me a meeting with Ellen Channels at SAVE, Inc. Never did Ellen make me feel like an outsider. I felt like I was at home. I could breathe.
The name of the organization — SAVE — says it all. They saved my life. They have helped me whenever I needed it. I was sad when I left SAVE, Inc. because I didn’t want to leave Lisa, Joshua and Ellen.
Are you doing better emotionally?
Emotionally, I am getting better. My health is failing, but I’m still going to keep my head up. There are a lot of people out there rooting for me. I won’t let them down. Lisa is such an angel and she doesn’t want me to give up. She came over to my apartment for inspections and would brag on the place. She never came out to interrogate me — she came out to praise me, encourage my progress and offer support.
Are you more open about your HIV/AIDS status?
Not really. I’ve heard that it’s God’s punishment for being gay. No one in my family knows. I think, “I’ve been a good boy, so why am I going through this?” But I can’t dwell on that.
What are your future plans?
The first thing I plan on doing when I get transportation is to attend a support group. If you haven’t been through something, it’s a mystery to you. There are things happening with this disease that I don’t understand, so if I can be around people who have been through it, I will better understand what is going on. I also want to find a church home with people who won’t judge me.
Finally, I want to start donating my time and effort to make people aware of HIV and diabetes. People need to know that you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Stress will kill. We don’t have to be stressed; we just have to stay on the right path and not look back. My mother taught me that.
HIV is not a death sentence. It’s an illness that you have to control.