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Vince Chalwe Rudy Keisuke Michael Derrick

I attended PLUS after my HIV diagnosis back in 1997. After finding out I was positive, I heard from friends who were also positive that it would be a good way for me to find out how to live well with HIV.

After that, I didn’t have contact with Positive Force for many years because I ended up becoming homeless. I was evicted from my apartment after my landlady died—and because I was on a fixed income, I was priced out. Living on the street, my primary needs were pitted against each other. I had to decide—food, or water? Sleep or shelter? I didn’t have the resources to pursue other needs like healthcare.

Eventually, I came into contact with Positive Force staff who reached out and wanted to help me get back on my feet. I was ready to come back and reconnect with my HIV status. I needed to—I was having difficulty getting HIV medications and needed help advocating for my health.

After re-joining Positive Force, I started attending The Dr. is In sessions, and was able to get valuable information about HIV treatment. I went on Urban Adventure trips with the group—even during times when I wasn’t permanently housed. At one point, I was squatting at a place in the Mission, trying to stabilize my life, and I was able to leave and go on an urban adventure whitewater rafting trip. It was really fantastic!

Most importantly, what I received from Positive Force was validation. The validation that I was a person worthy of support came at a really critical time in my life and really helped me get it together.

I’m going to have permanent housing soon since I helped organize a non-profit co-op to house people living with HIV through a community land trust. I participated in AIDS/LifeCycle in 2015—riding 545 miles on a mountain bike to raise money for the free services provided by San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I also volunteer with Syringe Access Services to provide safer injection supplies to people who inject drugs.

At the end of the day, my problems are no greater than anyone else’s. Now that my life is stabilizing, I want to help others in my community—just as Positive Force helped me.

Are you ready to meet other HIV positive guys?

Join the men of Positive Force at one of our upcoming events!

Vince Chalwe Rudy Keisuke Michael Derrick