A Former HIV Counselor Rediscovers Hope on AIDS/LifeCycle


For five years, Tanner Reive worked in the Disclosure Assistance and Partner Services program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health—providing HIV test results, counseling clients, and obtaining information about sexual partners in order to provide partner notification and testing. All new HIV-positive test result cases that happened in San Francisco were referred to Reive and his two other coworkers. During those five years, Reive delivered a total of 64 positive test results—a stunning number of positive results for one counselor to handle. The day he delivered that 64th positive result was the day he resigned from his job.

“I felt like the disease had won. The patient was barely 15 years old, and it was a breaking point for me. It had taken the lives of so many, it had been a nightmare to those I had to tell, and I gave up the fight.”

Now, Reive wants to send the message that HIV has not won. This is his second year on AIDS/LifeCycle. His first year, he decided to ride because of his 15-year-old client—someone who Reive has thought of often, wondered about, and hoped had moved forward in life.

Reive said the first day of the ride—with about 87 miles of steep terrain—was exhausting.  After seven hours of riding, he arrived in camp tired, dirty, and hungry. Standing in line for dinner, Reive was surprised to see a familiar face.

“He was staring at me quite intently, as if we had met before. It took me a moment to realize that I was looking back at the 15-year-old kid in the counseling room that final day in the clinic.”

As fate would have it, Reive was looking at the last person he delivered news of an HIV diagnosis to—who was now 22, and looking happy, healthy and proud of finishing the first day of the ride. While he and Reive didn’t exchange words, they smiled at each other across the room. Reive fought back tears.

“He didn’t know what happened to me that day,” says Reive. “He didn’t know that he was the reason I was doing the ride. He didn’t know how sad his situation made me feel then and how incredibly grateful he made me feel now.”

During lunch on day two of the ride, Reive happened to sit next to Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He ended up sharing his story with Giuliano—his reason for doing the ride, and the hope, joy and excitement he experienced seeing his former client the previous night. That night, Giuliano shared Reive’s story with the entire group of riders, roadies and staff at dinner.

“I was shocked,” recalled Reive. “It was one of the greatest experiences I had ever had. I cried at the table. And I knew it would be a moment in my life that I would never forget.”

Reive is now in touch with his former client—they happened to meet again outside a bar in San Francisco a few months after AIDS/LifeCycle last year. That time, they talked. Reive shared how delivering that 64th test result affected him, and how happy and grateful he is to know the young man is now connected to care. But also, Reive is happy their story has inspired other people to ride this year.

“He told me, ‘If this story is getting other people to ride, tell it to whoever you can.’”

Lynne Reive, Tanner Reive’s mother, was so inspired by her son’s experience that she’s volunteering this year as a roadie—she’ll be helping to serve lunch to participants. Flying in from the East Coast, she’ll be camping for the first time in her life.

“I am really excited that my mom is flying all the way out from New Jersey. I offered to put her up in hotels and she said no. She wants the full experience and to see her son in camp every night!”

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