TJ
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David Douglas Tony Brad Jonathan Manuel Matthew

My first weekend facilitating PLUS, I was nervous. It was a long weekend for me. But in the end, I enjoyed it. The guys were so open to connecting, willing to challenge themselves, and hungry for the information and opportunity we offered.

I’ve helped facilitate PLUS, a peer-led, weekend-long seminar about living with HIV, since the early 2000s. A big part of PLUS is not only coming to grips with having HIV, but being able to do something about it and crafting a system of support for yourself. It’s helping people to stop floundering and take control of their lives. Empowerment is a major piece of it for a lot of folks.

I’ve seen PLUS really help guys who were newly infected. But even for long-term survivors, PLUS can help guys catch up on HIV information and reinvest themselves into the community. Sometimes long-term survivors develop a tendency to fade away from the community around them—because they have experienced losses of health, friends, partner and family during the early stages of the epidemic. PLUS can pull them back and help them pay attention to their overall wellness.

I knew a guy who couldn’t leave his apartment unless he had a clear path of free restrooms that he could go into. His life had become this teeny little place. A lot of that had to do with the side effects of the HIV medications he was taking, which worked wonderfully for him but had these side effects. Until speaking about his concerns at PLUS it never occurred to him to think about his wellness and quality of life and ask his doctor about other HIV medications or medications to reduce the side effects. Now, it’s possible for him to live, and live well, with HIV.

One of the things PLUS does for me is to keep me connected and allows me to give back to my community.


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David Douglas Tony Brad Jonathan Manuel Matthew