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February 18 2013

reggiesmith770

Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M)

As an HIV advocate, I, and others, sometimes have to try to make living with HIV look easy and doable.  For me, most of the positive self-talk and resulting positive public image that it helps me put on the face of being a person living with HIV is good for my spirit and health, and hopefully useful for those who might need to know that wellness is possible in spite of our seemingly dire dilemma.  In fact, for those of us who have come to understand that in this system of capitalism, our life stories are one of our most valuable commodities.  Our ability to position ourselves to market our stories, and any other creditable, useful information that our experience has garnered, can directly influence our ability to capitalize monetarily on that valuable information.  Like my good friend Luther Brock says, “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!”

This may sound a bit cold and calculating in light of the nature of the seriousness that HIV and AIDS represent, but that seriousness is what makes the experience and the story even more valuable.  In this society where “reality” shows and real life dramas dominate, and where fear is the predominate energy behind many unique selling propositions (see gun sales), a good redemption story that can touch the hearts of many. A touching life story of the young girl unknowingly infected by the dastardly bastard who didn’t tell her he had the virus, or the “Lazarus-like” resurrection of the AIDS patient who cheated death after beginning treatment are drama filled stories, both stoking the fears of personal consequence and igniting the hopes of those afflicted.  Real life stories like these can definitely be effectively sold (see books below).  The fact is, if you are in this life situation, or any other for that matter, where you health and quality of life depend on how much money you have, you better get creative about how you are going to survive in this system of capitalism because your life depends on it!  

In capitalistic systems like the one we live in, even though we have “lifesaving” medicines, if you can’t pay for them, or can’t pay the co-pay, you may not get them. Life enhancing therapies cost money.  Serving our people by going to conferences and other speaking engagements cost money, and many times we are asked to do these events on our own dime, or for less than what is paid to others in similar, yet less dire situations.  Sometimes the money is there to pay us well, but somehow the value of our stories ends up being diminished by the need to feed “Capitalism” and the machine that makes it run.

 Sure, you may be blessed to have fallen (more likely crawled) into the social safety net of social security, but for the most part that simply takes care of your basic needs.  If you  want to really live well, you are going to have to make a few more dollars than that, and if you are living with a scary disease like HIV, you may not be able to work, so you need to know that the truth about your life experiences has redeeming value.  You just have to figure out how to market it AND get paid fairly, because in “Capitalism” most people are trying to get rich by employing cheap labor.  The dirty little secret is that like everything else, the HIV industry is big business too.  It may, for many, be a business born from altruism, but it IS big business nonetheless.  If you doubt that, ask yourself how your livelihood and cash flow would be affected if there was a cure found today?

So, let’s all be honest about what is really the common denominator of our motivations in a capitalistic society such as the one in which we live.  It may seem like a cold calculation at first, but when you divide it with the warmth of empathy, love, and concern for our fellow man, well...you still get a great book or movie (cue the music) that could help someone through or around an experience like mine.  Living with HIV is NOT easy.  Life is not easy.  If something I can share can help you or anyone, my life has gained great intrinsic value as a result.  Unfortunately, cash rules everything around me (C.R.E.A.M) so I’m gonna have to do like everybody else and figure out how to get paid in the process, so I can keep doing the other stuff I like to do.  If you have a story about living with, around or in fear of HIV, you might want to do likewise.  Together, the 99% of us with the stories might someday get or create what we are truly worth.

Please support authors who are sharing their lives living with HIV with you.

“Surrender To Heal” - 7 Ways to Rise Above the Battlefield of Lifeby Reggie Smith
“From The Crack House to the White House” - by Denise Stokes
“I’m Still Here”  - by Venus Perez  

Subscribe to RISE4WAR.com - a multimedia magazine focused on Wellness, Awareness, & Recovery especially for families affected by HIV/Hep C.

August 18 2012

reggiesmith770

ABOUT RISE 4 WAR - The Multimedia Magazine

ABOUT RISE 4 WAR - The Multimedia Magazine

“It is imperative that we participate in our own survival, because if we do not do so, we will most certainly be complicit in our own demise” Reggie Smith – Editor-in-chief

Now is the time for us to raise our consciousness about our responsibility for our own wellness.  There is very little, if anything, preventing us from heightening our awareness about how we can recover from the multitude of maladies that are plaguing minority communities.  Data overwhelmingly supports the need, and desire for information and resources that will help to create an atmosphere for healing. The Affordable Care Act is ushering in a shift in the paradigm as it pertains to wellness care.  Among low-income patients, access to primary care is associated with better preventive care, better management of chronic conditions, and reduced mortality.

RISE” multimedia news and education magazine will be delivered in an interactive format, which includes audio, and video interviews, featured articles, and reported information concerning local individuals and organizations in the wellness arena.
 
RISE” – multimedia news and education magazine will provide the following opportunities for promotional consideration to those select products, services and businesses that fit into the vision and format we have created:

  • Community awareness through cross promotional campaigns
     
  • Direct access to a niche market of expanding demographic
     
  • Hypertext brand logo placement used in email campaigns using individual segments
     
  • Hypertext brand logo placement used in websites
     
  • Hypertext brand logo placement used in online TV programs
     
  • Product placement opportunities
  • Access to comprehensive campaign analytics
     

Join us as we “RISEfor Wellness, Awareness & Recovery (WAR) from HIV, Hepatitis, Diabetes, Addictions, and many of the other maladies that plague our community! 

We intend to be entertaining, informative and interactive. 

We plan to provide resources that you can use to enhance the quality of your life. 

We hope you enjoy and egage with us…here in “RISE”!
 

August 16 2012

reggiesmith770

Positive Attitudes – A 12 Step Program For HIV Affected Persons by Reggie Smith

Positive Attitudes – A 12 Step Program For HIV Affected Persons

I have personally benefited from using the principles of this 12-step program for those of us who acknowledge that we are affected by HIV.  I say “those of us who have acknowledged” because most, if not all of us, have been affected by HIV.  Not everyone has come to terms with it, or has identified just how they are affected.  Let’s explore some of the scenarios with which YOU may be included in this demographic first, and then discuss whether this program may right for you.

The program has been called HIV Anonymous for over 10 years, but because the stigma of HIV would not allow many people to get past the idea of being associated with, seen around, or connected to anything with HIV in the name or title, the name of the program is now “Positive Attitudes”.  Many people are affected because they have yet to deal with the trauma of lost loved one’s.  That is especially true for those whose families have been stigmatized to the point of hiding the fact that those loved one’s were HIV+ prior to death.

Of course, if you are sexually active, you are eligible to become a host for HIV.  The mere fact that sexually active people need to navigate the minefield of truth and reconciliation, with self and partners, is reason enough to be involved in a support group.  What I have found is that our individualistic nature is something the HIV retrovirus is counting on in it’s quest to make YOU a host for HIV.  The Positive Attitudes program is an answer to the question, “what is out there for the uninfected person?”.  Where can we all go to discuss the spiritual, emotional and mental issues and behaviors that make us humans such fertile ground for manifesting HIV?

Positive Attitudes is a twelve- step support program adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a global network that offers unbiased support to people infected with, affected by, or at risk for HIV.  There is a dire need to remove the stigma and face the fears and ignorance surrounding HIV & AIDS. This fellowship is helping to reduce the prejudice and discrimination against HIV-affected individuals.  They are a fellowship of men and women who are committed to a way of life that will help fight the spread of HIV.

Positive Attitudes is a fellowship of persons who have found that living with a potentially terminal illness and/or affected by this illness is a major challenge. They are individuals who meet regularly as a group, assisting one another in this new way of life.  They have no outside affiliations.  Your past is kept in confidence within the group. They don’t thrive on your past, but concentrate on what we want for today and our future.  For many, the realization of their present conditions left them feeling dejected and depressed. They could no longer live life to its fullest. They became disoriented, and their peace of mind was displaced by uncontrollable emotions.

The folks involved in Positive Attitudes support groups are not there to change you. They are not there to segregate or impose a particular belief system upon you. However, if you feel remorse that you have transmitted HIV to another person, or if you are concerned that your behavior could spread HIV, or maybe you just want to fellowship with other people who are living in balance and harmony with HIV and AIDS, then Positive Attitudes is for you.

There are thousands of sources telling you what to do—and what not to do. Some sources claim that HIV causes AIDS and others claim that it does not. The folks at Positive Attitudes avoid getting caught up in scientific contention. We have experienced much suffering. We have seen too many broken hearts and too many people die to take one side in an unresolved scientific debate. They also emphasize Prevention for Positives, which includes prevention challenges specific to people already infected with HIV, such as re-infection with resistant strains of HIV, co-infection with hepatitis, TB, and STD’s, denial of risk, health issues, and psychosocial issues. The choice to take medication for HIV or AIDS is a decision that each individual must make.

If you have seen yourself or a loved one in your minds eye wile reading this information, then your spirit is telling you that you read it for a reason.  Do yourself a favor and start (or continue) listening to your spirit.  Reach out to these folks to let them know they are on the right track as they are working to make this program available for you.  They have a sister site for Hepatitis C with a bulletin board that is very active with treatment experienced people sharing their strength, hope and experience.

www.hivanonymous.com       www.hcvanonymous.com       Phone: 949-264-4170     HIVAspotw:vo

http://rise4war.com/

 

reggiesmith770

LIVING JUST A LITTLE, LAUGHING JUST A LITTLE (AIN’T EASY) by Reggie Smith

    LIVING JUST A LITTLE, LAUGHING JUST A LITTLE (AIN’T EASY)

by Reggie Smith

 

I get tired of taking meds!!  I know that is not the politically correct position to take, but if you have been taking meds for any period of time, as I have, you might just get tired of taking medications every day too!!  Adherence means having to be disciplined enough to take medications EVERY day, in some cases two or three times a day.  That is not an easy thing to do, even if it is the difference between good and bad health, or as we have been told and have sometimes experienced, the difference between life and death.

Why should I be any different than most humans I know?  After all, adherence is the flip side of prevention, right?  The fact that I am in this position of having to take these HIV meds is because I was not disciplined enough to wear a condom, so what makes me think that all of a sudden I am going to be disciplined enough to maintain this new lifestyle perfectly every day!  Furthermore,  I have been addicted to other things in my life, and I have worked very hard to break those addictions so that I could be the thing my heart yearns for…FREE!  Now I find myself strung out on other drugs that I better not stop taking if I want to feel good and protect those whom I love.

Well, for those of us who are hosts to the HIV virus, we need to know that our situation is way beyond just how we feel.  The virus is not a morale issue, nor is our well being contingent on what we think about how we got HIV.  It is bigger than our often natural desire to be undisciplined and inconsistent.  The fact is that experience is showing us that those who take these medications to suppress the HIV virus in our systems seem to benefit the most.  I remember when there were no medications at all, and very little if any hope for those of us who fought valiantly to enjoy the best quality life we could.  We had to do so without the option of the “lifesaving” medicines that we now find ourselves sometimes taking for granted.  How else could we explain the evolution of attitudes about HIV, and how the attitudes about living with the virus has gone from hopelessness to recklessness?

People think that it is easy to just take the medications if they catch the virus, but like I always try to share with those who are still HIV negative, it’s easier to wear a condom than it is to get and take medications every day for the rest of your life.  When I ask people about their addictions to things like cigarettes, sugar, fried chicken, soda, etc., most say that they do not have the discipline to stop using those substances, even with the knowledge that they may be harmful to their health.  Many have said “I can’t think about living without my ____”!!  So clearly the threat of bad health is not the ultimate motivation to live a disciplined life.  What is it that will get folks to change their behaviors? 

I have been sick and at deaths door.  When you have had that kind of experience, or if you have lived as long as many of us who are long time survivors have, the motivation to adhere to our medicine regimens is rooted in gratititude.  I try to remember what it was like being sick and how much more enjoyable my life is when I am feeling physically well.  Life is so much more sweeter, and I am so much more of a productive human being when I am not consumed with how to overcome sickness.  Besides, many of us longtime survivors are now grandparents, so the curiosity of how my grandchildren will look and be as they grow up is keeping me going too!  I mean, my children are still a part of my motivation to be well, but my grandchildren are even more intriguing, and watching them grow will take more time, so if the meds will help me achieve that, I guess I will do my best to adhere to the regimen as prescribed.  The best thing I can do along with that is to make sure that I drink enough water and do the other things that I can to try to keep my organs (i.e., liver, kidneys, heart, etc.) as healthy as I can!

So, even though I am tired of taking meds, and I want to be free of even the addiction to medications that are legal and beneficial; and even though I can use my humanity as an excuse to not take meds all the time because I am not perfect…I am way too grateful and nosy about what life has to offer to NOT take them.  There are too many who have died as a result of either side of the arguments of the scientific debate.  I chose to err on the side of caution for now.  Actually that has been working out pretty well for me.  After being sick in 2005, I have been taking the antiretroviral combination that has kept my virus at undetectable levels, and allowed me to enjoy really good health.  With God’s grace, and enough desire to live well, I have been able to adhere pretty well to this regimen.  My oldest granddaughter was 2 years old at the time.  Now she is nine, and I have two other grand daughters, a grandson, and a set of boy/girl twins due in months!  I play softball and golf, take flying lessons, I am of service to my community, and I am blessed to share my experience and hope with you.  I think that the benefits to adhering to this regimen of medicines is bigger than what I might be feeling about being tired.

There are probably a lot of politically correct things that could be said to try to encourage people like you and me to adhere to taking our medications religiously, but for me it’s best that I remember that it is easier to try to stay healthy than it is to try to get well!!  I have seen the fruits of being alive and well, and I will try to remain grateful for every day that I can have this wonderful life.  If part of the price for being able to share life and love, while protecting my wife, who is HIV negative from any greater danger, than I need to be unselfish enough, and willing enough to give it my very best shot.  There are plenty of things that we can do to try to understand ourselves and our addictions better.  Twelve step programs like HIV Anonymous (www.hivanonymous.com) have been very helpful on both accord.  So I suggest we do our best to make the right choice on a daily basis so that we can enjoy watching the adventure of life unfold!

---

Here in "RISE", we are always seeking to share encouragement and information, as well as resources in the community where we might find support for our healing.  We hope that you will be uplifted by the stories of these young women living with HIV, and are as encouraged as we are about the great potential of loves healing power!

http://rise4war.com/

March 05 2012

reggiesmith770

Inner-View with author Denise Stokes

http://reggiesmith770.blog.socialnetgate.com/content/inner-view-author-denise-stokes

Host of "RISE" Reggie Smith talks with the vivacious, irrepressible author/activist Denise Stokes about issues she writes about in her new book "From the Crack House to the White House".

December 19 2011

reggiesmith770

"RISE" - The Multimedia Magazine focusing on Wellness, Awareness, and Recovery

I would love for you to look at "RISE" - The Multimedia Magazine focusing on Wellness, Awareness, and Recovery! Please subscribe, post to FaceBook, and give us your feed back at participate@RISE4war.com!!

 

                                            WWW.RISE4WAR.COM

 

                                         

November 05 2011

reggiesmith770

Denise Stokes - The First Lady of Hope and Inspiration!!

I am pleased...beyond words, that my friend Denise Stokes is blessing us with this look into her inspiring journey - in an attempt to inspire hope to those who would receive it.  May God continue to bless you!!  I hope to be among the first to interview you on "RISE" - The Multimedia Magazine!!

November 04 2011

reggiesmith770

HIV 101 @ GA. State University

When we were navigating the myriad of emotions we felt about living with HIV back in the 1980's, I never envisioned something like what I had the great blessing to observe and enjoy recently at Georgia State University.  My friend, Dr. Larry Bryant, a professor at Georgia State University, has created an accredited course on HIV Awareness (HIV 101) that is very well thought out and it is having a wonderful effect on the 60+ students enrolled this semester.  Imagine, an actual accredited course on HIV, with a text book and everything!!   I was blessed to have the opportunity to share my experiences as a person living with AIDS for the past 25 years.  The bredth of the knowledge exhibited by the students was refreshing!  Thanks to Dr. Larry Bryant for inviting me to speak and listen.  Thanks go to him for having the vision and perserverance needed to make it haopen.  I pray that every college and university follow his lead and institute a cousre just like it.  Among these students is the person who will discover the cure for HIV.

November 02 2011

reggiesmith770

HIV Awareness is STILL important!

The fact that people with HIV are living longer than ever before, we seem to have developed a complacency about the emotional effect that our relationships have suffered as a result of how we have to negotiate with each other as a result of HIV.  Friends and family are experiencing a post traumatic emotional disorder that is predicated on the memory of those lost, and the fear of personal exposure to the virus as a result of unchanged behavior.  Love, unconditional love, can be a strong part of the healing process.  Lets not forget those who have gone too soon, but let's not allow our trauma to dictate our future.
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