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Minority Matters February 2014

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Living and loving with AIDS, the statistics and the outlook in the Arfrican-American and other minority communities.

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WELCOME TO MINORITY MATTERS. I'M YOUR HOST SYLVESTER SMITH. SPREAD OF HIV AID IS AN ISSUE IN OUR STATE AND OUR NATION. RACIAL ETHNIC MINORITY ACCOUNTS FOR INFECTION IN 2011. THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY HAS BEEN ESPECIALLY HARD HIT BY THE HIV AND AIDS EPIDEMIC. ACCORDING TO THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, AFRICAN-AMERICAN HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN CONTINUE TO BE FAR MORE AFFECTED BY HIV THAN WOMEN OF ANY OTHER RACE OR ETHNICITY. AND YOUNG BLACK GAY AND BISEXUAL MEN NOW ACCOUNT FOR MORE AND MORE NEW AFFECTIONS FROM ANY OTHER GROUP IN THE UNITED STATES. SO, TODAY OUR TOPIC IS LIVING AND LOVING WITH AIDS, AND WE WILL TALK ABOUT THE STATISTICS AND THE OUTLOOK IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND OTHER MINORITY COMMUNITIES AND SINCE IT'S FEBRUARY, THE CHALLENGE OF, AS I SAID, LIVING AND LOVING WITH AIDS. JOINING ME FOR THIS DISCUSSION ARE CONNIE ROEBUCK, A PERSON LIVING WITH AIDS, PORTIA CHEATHAM, ARKANSAS DIRECTOR OF THE AIDS FOUNDATION, DEREK NEWBY, PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE DELTA REGION AIDS EDUCATION AND TRAINING CENTER, AND CORNELIUS MABIN, THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER AT THE LIVING AND AFFECTED CORPORATION. THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING ME TODAY. I MEAN, THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT TOPIC AND I SAID IT TWICE IN THE INTRO AND I SAID IT FOR A REASON. I'VE SEEN LOTS OF COMMENTARY OVER THE YEARS ABOUT THE AIDS, QUOTE-UNQUOTE, EPIDEMIC AND WHAT AIDS DOES TO SOCIETY. BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN OR PARTICIPATED IN MANY DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WHEN A PERSON HAS THE CHALLENGE OF TRYING TO LIVE AND THE MORE DIFFICULT CHALLENGE I WOULD IMAGINE OF TRYING TO LOVE WITH AN HIV/AIDS DIAGNOSIS. SO, LET'S FIRST JUST TALK ABOUT THE OVERALL ISSUE, AND IS HIV AND AIDS AS BIG A DEAL AS PEOPLE ARE MAKING IT? AND I THINK I'M GOING TO START RIGHT HERE WITH YOU, MS. ROEBUCK.

YES, IT IS. IT'S A VERY BIG DEAL BECAUSE A LOT OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS DON'T WANT TO GET TESTED. FIRST OF ALL, THEY DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO TREAT THEM DIFFERENT.

HOST: WELL, ARE PEOPLE TREATED DIFFERENTLY ONCE THEY HAVE THE HIV OR AIDS DIAGNOSIS?

YES, WE'RE LIKE SCORNED. THEY'RE SCARED TO TALK TO YOU, SCARED TO TOUCH YOU, THINK THEY CAN GET IT LIKE THAT, BUT YOU HAVE TO GET EDUCATED TO KNOW THE DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN GET HIV AND AIDS.

HOST: NOW, MR. MABIN, YOU ALSO HAVE HIV, AND MS. ROEBUCK, YOU ARE HIV POSITIVE. SO ARE YOU. HAVE YOU HAD A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE?

NOT EXACTLY I GUESS BECAUSE OF THE FACT I WAS PROBABLY MORE EDUCATED. AND, SO, IN MY WORK I TRY TO DO JUST THAT, EDUCATE OTHER INDIVIDUALS AROUND IT. WHAT CONNIE IS SPEAKING OF IS WHAT WE CALL STIGMA AND STIGMA IS ALIVE AND WELL, AND THE DISEASE HAS STIGMATIZED. YOU TALKED ABOUT EARLIER IN OUR PRE-TALK ABOUT BEING 30 YEARS AGO WHERE WE THOUGHT IT WAS A DEATH SENTENCE. NOW WE KNOW IT'S A CHRONIC DISEASE. IT'S A DISEASE THAT'S MANAGEABLE AND YOU CAN LIVE AND LOVE WITH HIV. ALWAYS ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT KNOWING YOUR STAT CSUS PART OF THAT PROCESS. ONCE YOU KNOW THAT, YOU CAN MOVE FORWARD TO HAVE A VERY HEALTHY SEXUAL LIFE AS WELL.

HOST: WELL, I WANT TO KIND OF BREAK THIS DOWN INTO BITS AND PIECES. SO, LET'S GO BACK TO THE STIGMA. I THINK IT WOULD BE FAIR FOR ALL OF US TO JUST AGREE THAT THE STIGMA TRACES BACK TO THE FACT THAT EARLY ON WHEN AIDS FIRST REALLY HIT THE GENERAL PUBLIC, IT WAS A DISEASE THAT PRIMARILY IMPACTED HOMOSEXUAL MEN. IT WAS EVEN AT ONE POINT CALLED A GAY CANCER. DO YOU AGREE THAT'S WHERE THE STIGMA, ORIGINAL STIGMA CAME FROM?

THAT MAY HAVE BEEN WHAT WAS SAID, BUT THAT WAS NOT ALWAYS FACTUAL. THERE WERE ALWAYS BLACK INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED. THEY JUST WERE NOT AS VISIBLE AS WHITE INDIVIDUALS WERE. IT WAS SEEN AS A WHITE GAY MAN'S DISEASE. BLACK MEN WERE ALWAYS THERE. LATER ON BLACK WOMEN WERE THERE. THEY WERE ALWAYS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING, BUT THEY WERE NEVER THE FACE THAT YOU SAW. YOU SAW THE ACTIVE GROUPS, ADVOCACY GROUPS, MOSTLY COMPRISED OF WHITE MEN BECAUSE BLACK PEOPLE WERE DEALING WITH IT IN OTHER WAYS PRIMARILY AT THAT TIME. NOW, MOVING FORWARD TO NOW WE'VE GOT TO CONTINUE TO EDUCATE, TRY TO TEST, AND ALWAYS TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES EVEN TO THIS DAY. SO, REALLY TECHNICALLY NOW THE FACE OF AIDS OR HIV IS MORE PEOPLE OF COLOR, BUT THEY'VE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FROM THE BEGINNING.

HOST: YOU KNOW, ANYONE ELSE FEEL FREE TO CHIME IN.

I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT, WITH CORNELIUS AS WELL. IN THE UNITED STATES, ALTHOUGH IT WAS A SMALL COMMUNITY THAT WAS INITIALLY AFFECTED, WORLDWIDE HIV HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HETEROSEXUAL PREDOMINANTLY AFFECTED DISEASE. IN THE UNITED STATES, JUST BECAUSE THEY CHOSE TO MISS LABEL IT AS GRID, IMMUNO RELATED DEFICIENCY, IT DID LEAD TO A LOT OF MISTREATMENT AND STIGMA RELATED TO THAT COMMUNITY. BUT EVEN IN THIS DAY AND TIME NOW, WE CAN'T TALK ABOUT HIV AND AIDS AND NOT TALK ABOUT THAT COMMUNITY BECAUSE OF HOW HARD THE GAY COMMUNITY IS BEING AFFECTED BY THE DISEASE AS WELL. SO, IT'S IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON THEM, BUT IT'S MORE IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON TREATMENT AND HELPING PEOPLE TO GET CLOSER TO SERVICES RATHER THAN LOOKING AT IT FROM A NEGATIVE PERSPECTIVE BECAUSE IT'S NOT WHAT YOU -- IT'S NOT WHO YOU ARE, IT'S WHAT YOU DO THAT PUTS YOU AT RISK FOR HIV.

AND HONESTLY, I FEEL LIKE IF WE JUST QUIT LABELING IT ALL TOGETHER, SAYING IT'S THIS PERSON'S DISEASE OR THIS PERSON WHO MIGHT GET IT, REALIZE THAT IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE. IF WE START LOOKING AT IT LIKE THAT, I THINK WE CAN ACCOMPLISH AND ACHIEVE SO MUCH MORE.

HOST: WELL, THAT'S A VERY GOOD POINT, PORTIA, THAT IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE. WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE STIGMA, THE ROOT OF THE STIGMA WHETHER IT'S GAY SEX OR HETEROSEXUAL SEX, THE STIGMA EVOLVES FROM THE FACT PEOPLE RELATE HIV TO SEX. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

WELL, YES, BECAUSE IT'S A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE. IT'S AN INFECTION. THERE ARE OTHER SECTION URALLY TRANSMITTED IP EFFECTSES. I TELL PEOPLE IT IS SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED SO ARE OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INEFFECTS. ULTIMATELY HIV IS A CHRONIC DISEASE THAT CAN BE MANAGED, IT CAN BE MANAGED WITH -- YOUR DRUG TEAM OR PHYSICIANS OR MEDICAL TEAM PUTS YOU UPON. IF YOU ADHERE TO THAT, YOU CAN LIVE A LONG HEALTHY LIFE. RIGHT NOW WE HAVE PILLS, ONE BILL A DAY, SOMETIMES THREE PILLS A DAY AS OPPOSED TO ONE YEARS AGO IT WAS 10, 15, 30 PILLS A DAY. SO, IT IS A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE, THAT'S A FACT, BUT THERE ARE DRUGS THAT CAN HELP YOU MANAGE THAT INFECTION FOR A LIFETIME.

IT ALSO MAKES YOU QUESTION IF YOU CAN CATCH IT SEXUALLY. PEOPLE ARE QUICK TO LABEL IT AS A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE EVEN THOUGH THE SCREEN IS BETTER. WHEN YOU DONATE BLOOD AND EVERYTHING, BUT YOU HAVE TO REALIZE, YOU LOOK AROUND THAT SITUATION, HE WAS AN INNOCENT CHILD. HE GOT IT FROM A BLOOD TRANSFUSION.

SOMEBODY ALSO GOT IT FROM A BLOOD TRANSFUSION. I WAS HOPING ONE OF YOU WOULD INTERJECT. IT MAY BE A MISNOMER WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER SOMEONE WHO HAS HIV OR AIDS TO JUST PRESUME THAT THEY GOT IT FROM SEX. I THINK IN A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE STIGMA ADVERTISE STIGMA TISM. I'VE HEARD PEOPLE SAY IT'S GOD'S PUNISHMENT. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

I DON'T. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT THE ISSUE YOU SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT PUNISHMENT, YOU KNOW. CHRONIC DISEASES, WHETHER THEY ARE SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED OR GIVEN BY BLOOD PRODUCTS WHICH YEARS AGO BLOOD PRODUCTS WERE INFECTED WITH THE INFECTION. BUT TO THIS DAY I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK AT THE SITUATION WHERE THEY CAN BE MEDICALLY TREATED. YOU KNOW, IF YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH YOUR CHRISTIANITY OR WHATEVER YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEF IS AROUND THAT, THAT'S YOUR PERSONAL DECISION. I THINK THE GENERAL MASSES, THE INFORMATION I GIVE, KNOW YOUR STATUS, KNOW THE SERVE IS HE, KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE AND YOU CAN LIVE A FULL HEALTHY LIFE INCLUDING WHATEVER YOUR RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS ARE AND MOVE FORWARD. I'M NOT SURE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WOULD GIVE, BUT THAT'S WHAT I GIVE.

HOST: I THINK THAT'S A GREAT MESSAGE. LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT TREATMENT. AGAIN, WE USED TO THINK THAT HIV WAS A DEATH SENTENCE AND I THINK THE WATERSHED MOMENT THAT CHANGED THAT WAS THE MAGIC JOHNSON DIAGNOSIS BECAUSE YOU LOOK AT MAGIC JOHNSON TODAY, AND HE LOOKS YOUNGER AND HEALTHIER THAN HE DID WHEN HE WAS PLAYING BASKETBALL. AND I'M NOT TRYING TO SUGGEST THAT I BELIEVE HIV DIAGNOSIS MAKES A PERSON HEALTHIER, BUT I THINK THAT THERE WERE SOME OTHER ATTRIBUTES IN HIS LIFE, YOU KNOW, PARTYING THINGS OF THAT NATURE HE GAVE UP. HE HAS BEEN ON A REGIMEN OF MEDICATION. YOU HEAR COMEDIANS SAYING MAGIC DOESN'T HAVE IT ANY MORE. LET'S TALK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE TREATMENT. I KNOW YOU TALKED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF PILLS, BUT WHAT DOES IT COST A PERSON?

IT DEPENDS ON WHATEVER REGIMEN, WHATEVER YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBES TO YOU. IT CAN BE UP TO 2000, 3,000 THOUSAND DOLLARS OR MORE DEPENDING WHAT TYPE OF MEDICATION YOU ARE BEING PRESCRIBED. OF COURSE THERE'S ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS THAT CAN HELP YOU WITH THOSE COSTS. THERE'S INSURANCE THAT CAN HELP YOU WITH THOSE COSTS. THERE'S JOANNE WHITE FUNDING THAT CAN ASSIST WITH THAT CAUSE. WE'RE HOPINGFULLY THE FORWARD CARE ACT WILL BE IN POSITION TO HELP WITH SOME OF THOSE COSTS. SO, IT DEPENDS ON YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION. BUT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MULTIPLE THOUSAND DOLLARS WHEN IT COMES TO MEDICATION.

HOST: AND AGAIN, $2,000, IS THAT PER YEAR OR PER MONTH?

PER MONTH.

PER MONTH.

HOST: WELL, SO, AND YOU HAD YOUR DIAGNOSIS FOR 18 YEARS.

18 YEARS.

HOST: BUT 18 YEARS AGO MOST OF THESE PROGRAMS HE'S TALKING ABOUT DIDN'T EXIST. WHAT DID YOU DO TO COVER THE COST OF MEDICATION?

I WAS ON DRUG ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS UNTIL I GOT ON MY DISABILITY AND THEN I GOT THE MEDICARE MEDICAID AND I PAY LIKE $6.20, ONE OF THEM IS 1800 BUT I DON'T PAY BUT 6.20.

I'M GLAD YOU MENTIONED THAT ALSO PAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND ALTHOUGH THE COST OF TREATMENT MAY BE HIGH, THE COST OF NOT TREATING PATIENTS IS EVEN HIGHER FOR THE COMMUNITY. AS LONG AS PATIENTS ARE IN CARE, THEY REDUCE THE CHANCES OF PASSING ON THE VIRUS TO ANYBODY ELSE. AFRICAN AMERICANS GET TESTED AT A HIGHER RATE THAN ANY POPULATION AND GET DIAGNOSED AT A HIGHER RATE. ONLY ABOUT 35% THAT ACTUALLY REACH UNDETECTABLE. THAT'S BECAUSE IN THE CASCADE OF CARE, THEY FALL OFF AND THEY'RE NOT RETAINED IN CARE. WE HAVE TO RETAIN PEOPLE IN CARE IN ORDER TO GET TO THE POINT OF UNDETECTABLE LIKE MAGIC JOHNSON IS.

I'M UNDETECTABLE ALSO.

HOST: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO BE UNDETECTABLE?

THE COUNT?

ON A LABORATORY TEST, IT MEANS THE SENSITIVITY, THERE ARE LESS THAN 50 COPIES PER MILLILITER OF BLOOD AND THERE ARE DIFFERENT SENSITIVITY TESTS THAT ARE OUT THERE, BUT THAT'S WHAT THE GOAL OF TREATMENT IS, TO GET EACH PATIENT DOWN TO UNDETECTABLE.

HOST: YOU'RE BASICALLY TALKING ABOUT THE VIRUS LEVEL.

RIGHT.

ONCE YOU GET VIRALLY SUPPRESSED THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF MEDICATION AND ALL OF OUR EMPHASIS TO GET INDIVIDUALS INTO CARE, GET THEM TO BE RETAINED IN CARE SO WE CAN GET THE VIRAL LOAD SUPPRESSED. IF YOU GET THE VIRAL LOAD SUPPRESSED, IT IS MUCH LESS TO TRANSMIT. WE CALL IT CONTINUUM CARE. THAT IS OUR GOAL RIGHT NOW, SPECIFICALLY BE FOCUSED ON LINKING PEOPLE TO CARE, GETTING THEM TO BE RETAINED IN THAT CARE SO THAT WE CAN EVENTUALLY GET THEM VIRALLY SUPPRESSED. I'VE BEEN VIRALLY SUPPRESSED FOR MANY YEARS. IT IS A WONDERFUL THING WHEN YOU GET TO THAT PARTICULAR POINT BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE REALLY ADHERED TO YOUR DRUG REGIMEN AND YOU CAN MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE WITHOUT INFECTING ANYONE ELSE.

HOST: WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN. I BELIEVE, PORTIA, YOU HAD A STORY YOU MAY WANT TO SHARE WITH THE AUDIENCE, SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED RECENTLY ABOUT A PERSON WHO CHOSE NOT TO RECEIVE CARE.

YEAH, I HAD A CLIENT TO COME IN, ABOUT 20 SOMETHING. AND HE TOLD ME THAT HE WAS VERY SCARED BECAUSE HE JUST FOUND OUT THAT THE LATER PART OF 2013. BEING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IS NOT JUST DOING PAPERWORK, BUT IT'S ALSO BEING A CASE MANAGER, TOO. LETTING THE CLIENTS KNOW WE'RE THERE TO TALK TO THEM, TO UP LIFT THEM, TO REALIZE THIS IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE AND WE'RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR YOU TO GET YOU ALONG THE WAY. AND SOME TIME I LIKE TO GIVE OUT MY CELL PHONE NUMBER BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW, THEY MIGHT GOING THROUGH SOME TIME WHERE THEY NEED TO TALK. 11 O'CLOCK THAT NIGHT I GOT A TEXT MESSAGE SAYING THAT HE WAS REALLY SCARED BECAUSE HIS COUSIN WHO HAD AIDS DIED THAT DAY. AND HE WAS THE SAME AGE. AND I SAID, YOU KNOW, WHAT HAPPENED? HE SAID HE WASN'T TAKING HIS MEDICATION. I SAID, LET THAT BE THE DIFFERENCE WITH YOU. YOU TAKE YOUR MEDICATION AND YOU CONTINUE TO LIVE A FULL FILLED LIFE. I WAS SAD TO HEAR THAT, BUT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN WAYS OF LIVING AND GO GOING ABOUT THINGS AND THAT WAS HIS CHOICE ~.

HOST: WHY WOULD A PERSON IN THEIR 20S, IN THE AGE OF MAGIC JOHNSON AND IT'S PRETTY WELL KNOWN IN SOCIETY THAT MEDICINE CAN EXTEND YOUR LIFE, WHY WOULD SHE CHOOSE NOT TO TAKE IT?

THE DIFFERENT SIDE EFFECTS THAT IT HAS ON YOUR BODY. SOME OF THE MED SIB TURNS YOUR SKIN, SOME OF THE MEDICINE GIVES YOU DIARRHEA ~. IT'S JUST DIFFERENT SIDE EFFECTS. AND BY ME DEALING WITH IT FOR 18 YEARS, I CAN TELL YOU THE DIFFERENT SIDE EFFECTS. THAT'S WHY WHEN THESE NEW CASESES COME, I GIVE THEM MY NUMBER AND THEY CALL ME AND I TRY TO TAKE THEM THROUGH DIFFERENT THINGS THAT THEY CAN TAKE TO GET OVER THE SIDE EFFECTS.

WE ALSO TEACH PROVIDERS FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE HOW TO BE SUPPORTIVE. THIS IS NOT LIKE ANY OTHER DISEASE WHERE IF PEOPLE DON'T TAKE THEIR MEDICATION, ONLY PERSON THAT GETS HURT IS THEMSELVES. IT AFFECTS EVERYONE. PROVIDERS HAVE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF TO PATIENTS ON THE MEDICATIONS AND MAKE THEMSELVES AVAILABLE. A COMPREHENSIVE CARE PROGRAM IS USUALLY THE BEST MODEL BECAUSE THEY HAVE SUPPORTIVE SERVICES AS WELL AS JUST THE PROVIDER. THAT PROVIDER CAN BE THE LINK BETWEEN THAT PERSON DECIDING WHETHER THAT MEDICATION MATTERS OR WHETHER IT DOESN'T MATTER TO THEM AND THEY HAVE TO TALK WITH THEM AND ENCOURAGE THEM AND LET THEM KNOW THAT ALONG THE WAY THEY'RE GOING TO BE THERE TO SUPPORT THEM. THAT MEANS NOT ONLY JUST THE MEDICATIONS, BUT THEN WHEN THE SIDE EFFECTS COME OUT, I CAN CALL AND SAY, HEY, I'M HAVING THIS SIDE EFFECT AND THEY CAN GET -- PRESCRIBE SOMETHING TO HELP THAT SIDE EFFECT AS WELL. BUT IT TAKES A TEAM APPROACH. YOU CAN'T JUST PUT SOMEONE ON THESE MEDICATIONS AND SAY, OKAY, TAKE THESE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE AND GO LIVE. YOU HAVE TO CONSTANTLY REMAIN IN CONTACT WITH THEM AND ENCOURAGE THEM.

HOST: WELL, LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT -- BECAUSE I WANT TO WRAP UP THE LIVING PORTION OF THE DISCUSSION AND MOVE TO THE LOVING PORTION. PORTIA, WOULD YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE SERVICES THAT YOUR AGENCY PROVIDES TO PEOPLE? BECAUSE I WANT PEEP TO KNOW WHERE THEY CAN GO FOR HELP.

OKAY. WE ARE THE ARKANSAS AIDS FOUNDATION ALSO KNOWN AS CONSORTIA CARE ARKANSAS. WITH OUR SERVICES, WE HAVE THE HOPA, HOUSING OPPORTUNITY, PEOPLE WITH AIDS. WE HELP ASSIST WITH PEOPLE THAT HAVE -- THEIR QUALIFICATIONSES ARE YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FULL-TIME JOB, TWO PART-TIME JOBS EQUAL A FULL-TIME JOB. A STUDENT WITH A PART-TIME JOB. THAT SHOWS US YOU HAVE SOME SENSE OF STABILITY THAT WE CAN ASSIST YOU IN AREAS YOU MAY BE LACKING OF IN TERMS OF FINANCES. WE HAVE OUR STREAM, THAT HELPS OUT WITH IF YOU HAVE UTILITY BILLS OR IF YOU NEED RENTAL ASSISTANCE THROUGHOUT THE MONTH WHERE YOU CAN COME AND WE CAN ASSIST YOU WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY. LIKE I SAID, US BEING CASE MANAGERS, TOO, I HAVE AN ASSISTANT LARRY, HE'S THERE AND HE'LL TALK TO INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY BE DEALING WITH THE VIRUS SUCH AS MYSELF, TOO. I TALK TO THEM, TOO, TO LET THEM KNOW WE'RE NOT THERE GET YOU ON ASSISTANCE AND LEAVE YOU ASTRAY, WE CONTINUE TO TRY TO HELP YOU.

HOST: CORNELIUS, WHAT ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION?

WE TRY TO DEAL WITH THEM HOLESS TICKLY AS PEOPLE AND NOT JUST A DISEASE. WE TRY TO OFFER SUPPORT GROUPS AS FAR AS OUR STRONG LIGHT PROGRAM FOR GAY MEN UNDER 30. WE OFFER THAT PROGRAM ~. WE HAVE SOUTHERN WOW, WOMEN ON WOMEN, SUPPORT GROUP FOR WOMEN ALSO DEALING WITH HIV AND AIDS OR OTHER HEALTH DISPARITIES. WE ALSO HAVE NOW AND NEW TRANSGENDER GROUP AGAIN FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NOT INITIALLY BEING SERVED THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY FROM THAT CAPACITY. BEYOND THAT WE ALSO HAVE BEEN CONTRACTED TO EDUCATE AROUND THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SO WE CAN GIVE YOU EDUCATION AND ENROLLMENT INFORMATION. WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO THAT DESPITE WHAT THE LEGISLATORS WILL BE TRYING TO DO UNTIL WE GET FURTHER NOTICE. BUT WE HAVE THOSE PROGRAMS WE DO. WE ALSO DO FREE HIV AND TESTING. AND WE OFFER LINKAGE TO CARE. WE DO A WHOLE HOST OF SERVICES TO ANY INDIVIDUAL REGARDLESS OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, REGARDLESS OF THEIR RACE.

HOST: DEREK?

JEFFERSON CONFERENCE CARE, WE'RE A COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER. THAT MEANS WE SERVE PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF THEIR ABILITY TO PAY. NO MATTER WHAT. IF YOU COME TO OUR DOORS AND YOU'RE HIV POSITIVE, YOU'RE GOING TO RECEIVE THE SAME SERVICES THAT YOU RECEIVE IF YOU WERE DIABETIC OR HAD CANCER OR ANYTHING ELSE. BUT WE DO HAVE A HOST OF SERVICES BECAUSE OF THE RYAN WHITE CARE ACT THAT SUPPORT THE PROGRAM AS WELL. IN DOING SO, WE'RE ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR HIV PATIENTS LOW COST FOR THE DOCTORS VISITS IN SOME CASES FREE, JUST DEPENDS ON WHAT THEIR FINANCIAL STATUS IS BECAUSE WE'RE CONSIDERED A PAYER OF LAST RESORT. WE HAVE LABORATORY SERVICES ON-SITE. WE HAVE CASE MANAGERS THAT ARE FUNDED FROM THE RYAN WHITE CARE ACT. WE PROVIDE MEDICATION ASSISTANCE, ORAL CARE, WE HAVE ADEN AT THIS TIMEV IN PINE BLUFF AND ADEN AT  ~ A DENTIST IN LITTLE ROCK. WHEN THEY COME TO US THEY GET THAT CARE AS WELL.

HOST: WE WANT TO MOVE ON. YOU OFFER A LOT OF THINGS. WANT TO MAKE SURE WE GET TO THE LOVING PART. MS. ROEBUCK, WHAT SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?

I'M A QUALIFIED TECH. I TELL MY STORY WHERE NEEDED.

HOST: LET'S TALK THE REMAINING TIME ABOUT THE LOVING SIDE OF IT. AND, CORNELIUS, I'D LIKE YOU TO KIND OF TELL YOUR STORY AND TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES YOU'VE HAD IF ANY, OR THE PEOPLE THAT YOU SERVE, WHAT YOU'RE HEARING FROM THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH.

THE INDIVIDUALS THAT WE SERVE, I WOULD SAY THAT I THINK OUR PROGRAM, REASON TO LIVE, TRANSFERS FROM LOVING. YOU HAVE TO BEGIN BY LOVING YOURSELF FIRST BEFORE YOU CAN ALLOW SOMEONE TO BE IN YOUR SPACE TO HAVE A LOVING RELATIONSHIP. WE ENCOURAGE HEALTHY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS, OF COURSE, BUT ULTIMATELY WE TRY TO CREATE IMAGERY AND MESSAGES TO LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU CAN BE LOVED. YOU CAN BE LOVED IN YOUR FAITH-BASED COMMUNITY. YOU CAN BE DEMANDING LOVE FROM YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM WHETHER IT'S YOUR FAMILY OR FRIENDS OR NABORS. SO, YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF TO BEGIN WITH ~. AND WE TRY TO ENCOURAGE THAT, ESPECIALLY THROUGH OUR REASON TO LIVE PROGRAM, WE TRY TO HELP PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE REASONS TO LIVE, NOT ONLY KNOWING YOUR STATUS, BUT YOUR CAREER CHOICE OR EDUCATION PURSUITS. OR AGAIN, IF YOUR FAITH-BASED RELIGION, PERFORM YOUR FULFILLMENT THERE, YOUR REASON TO LIVE AND GO ON AND DO SO. THE SERVE IS HE WE TALKED ABOUT HERE, THE DRUG REGIMEN AVAILABLE, SUPPORTIVE SERVICES, YOU CAN LIVE A TRUE HEALTHY STRONG LIFE. I'M A LIVING WITNESS. FOR OVER 22 YEARS NOW. SO, I TRY TO ENCOURAGE ALL YOUNG PEOPLE TO KNOW THEIR STATUS AND IF YOU PERHAPS TEST POSITIVE, TO KNOW THAT THERE IS LIFE AFTERWARDS. THERE IS ALSO ENOUGH LOVE, I ATTENDED CONNIE'S MARRIAGE A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHEN THEY GOT MARRIED. SO, I KNOW THAT IT'S TRUE THAT YOU CAN FIND LOVE.

HOST: WELL, I THINK THAT'S A GREAT TIME TO SEGUE INTO YOUR STORY, CONNIE. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR DIAGNOSIS AND THEN THE CHALLENGES OF FINDING RELATIONSHIPS AFTER THAT.

WELL, I WAS DIAGNOSED 18 YEARS AGO ON VALENTINE'S DAY. THE STRUGGLE THAT I HAD, I TELL PEOPLE, I HAVE AID. HI, MY NAME IS CONNIE ROEBUCK, I HAVE AIDS AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS. I MET MY HUSBAND, HEY, I HAVE AID, YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME? SAID, YEAH, THAT'S WHAT THEY HAVE CONDOMS FOR. I TEST EVERY SIX MONTHS I KNOW HE'S FINE BECAUSE WE USE CONDOMS.

HOST: THAT'S A GREAT STORY. BUT I MEAN WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE BEFORE HIM, BEFORE YOUR HUSBAND, WHAT KIND OF OTHER REACTIONS DID YOU GET?

WELL, THE PERSON I GOT IT FROM WAS A DOWN LOW I WAS LIVING WITH IN FLORIDA. WAY CHEATING ON ME WITH A MAN. THAT'S HOW I CONTRACTED HIV AND AIDS. AND I MOVED BACK TO ARKANSAS BECAUSE MY DAD GOT SICK AND I GOT SICK. BUT I REALLY WASN'T DOING ANY DATING. WAY JUST TRYING TO GET MYSELF BACK TOGETHER BECAUSE WHEN I FIRST DIAGNOSED I HAD TO LEARN HOW TO WALK AGAIN, I HAD TO LEARN HOW TO USE MY HANDS BECAUSE THEY GAVE ME SOME MEDICINE THAT WAS TOO STRONG FOR MY BODY. I WAS MOSTLY CONCENTRATING ON TRYING TO GET MYSELF BACK TOGETHER TO FIND LOVE.

HOST: CORNELIUS, WHAT ABOUT YOU? BECAUSE I ASKED YOU THE SAME QUESTION AND YOU DIDN'T ANSWER IT. WHAT ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE?

I'VE BEEN HAPPILY IN A RELATIONSHIP FOR OVER 17 YEARS. WE MOVE FORWARD EVERY DAY, LIVING AND LOVING AND ENJOYING OUR LIVES, PROSPEROUS CITIZENS, TAXPAYERS, CONCERNED INDIVIDUALS IN OUR COMMUNITY. WE DON'T THINK IT IS AN ISSUE FOR US. IT ALLOWS ME TO ADVOCATE AND TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS, NOT JUST MODEL THE RELATIONSHIP I HAVE, BUT FIND RELATIONSHIPS THAT BEST SUIT THEM. BUT I THINK AS A LIVING KIND OF BEACON IN THE CITY, AROUND THE COMMUNITY FRONT I SAY I LIVE A VERY OPEN AND HONEST LIFE. YOU CAN LIVE THIS WAY AS WELL. GO OUT AND BE EMPLOYED AND BUY HOME AND CARS AND LIVE AND ENJOY LIFE AND UNDERSTAND THAT -- BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH IN THE MEANTIME AND THAT'S BASICALLY IT.

HOST: DEREK, PORTIA, ANY THOUGHTS FROM DEALING WITH YOUR CLIENTS ON THAT ISSUE?

JUST LISTENING TO YOU GUYS, IT'S AMAZING. I'M HONORED TO BE HERE WITH YOU, SERIOUSLY.

A LOT OF CLIENTS DON'T WANT TO BE HONEST BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT ANYBODY TO KNOW THEY'RE INFECTED. THAT'S WHY THEY CAN'T FIND LOVE. YOU HAVE TO BE HONEST WITH THESE PEOPLE. GIVE THEM THEIR CHOICE.

WE HAVE TO REITERATE HERE IN ARKANSAS, IT IS CRIMINAL IF YOU DO NOT TEST. WE ARE LOOKING AT RESEARCH TO DE CRIMINALIZE. IT IS A CRIMINAL INTENT IF YOU DO NOT DISCLOSE. MAKE SURE INDIVIDUALS UNDERSTAND THAT, THEY MUST DISCLOSE BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON A PERSON FEEL THAT THEY'VE BEEN SO INFECTED AND YOU'VE NOT DISCLOSED, YOU CAN BE IN A CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.

HOST:

ONE THING I'D LIKE TO ADD, OUR PEOPLE, OUR PATIENTS THAT COME TO US, WE ENCOURAGE THEM ONCE THEY'RE UNDER TREATMENT WITH A GOOD PROVIDER, TO RESUME A HEALTHY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP. WE'VE HAD PLENTY OF CONSUMERS THAT HAVE HAD CHILDREN WHILE THEY'VE BEEN UNDER OUR PROGRAM. WE'VE HAD COUPLES THAT ROUTINELY COME INTO -- ONE PERSON IS POSITIVE, ONE PERSON IS NEGATIVE, AND THEY USE OUR SERVICES TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN, AND ALSO TO JUST ENSURE THEY'RE HAVING A HEALTHY LIFE-STYLE BECAUSE THEY HAVE SOMEONE THEY CAN ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT. IF WE DO THIS OR IF WE DO THAT, TO MAKE SURE BOTH PEOPLE REMAIN SAFE. IT' IMPORTANT FOR A PERSON HIV POSITIVE AND A PERSON HIV NEGATIVE, IF YOU HAVE A COM PRE-MILED IMMUNE SYSTEM, YOU'RE MORE AT RISK OF SOMEBODY GIVING YOU SOMETHING AND MAKING YOU SICKER THAN THE PERSON WHO HAS A GOOD IMMUNE SYSTEM. SO, IT HAS TO GO BOTH WAYS. IT HAS TO BE AN OPEN HONEST RELATIONSHIP BOTH WAYS.

TO THIS POINT WE'VE ALSO GOT A DRUG OFFERED TO PEOPLE WHO ARE SEXUALLY ACTIVE. SO, THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS IN THE TOOL BOX TO HELP INDIVIDUALS WHETHER YOU'RE HIV POSITIVE OR NOT, TO HAVE A SEXUAL HEALTHY LIFE, BUT BE RESPONSIBLE WHETHER YOU'RE USING CONDOMS OR A DRUG REGIMEN OR GETTING GOOD COMMON SENSE REST. THERE IS A WAY TO LIVE REALLY HEALTHY AND WHERE YOU CAN LOVE LIFE FOR A LONG TIME.

HOST: I THINK THAT IS A GREAT WAY FOR US TO WRAP UP THIS DISCUSSION. I WANT TO THANK THIS FABULOUS PANEL. THIS HAS BEEN GREAT. IT'S BEEN EDUCATIONAL. I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY THE IMPORTANT TAKE AWAY IS KNOW YOUR STATUS. AND IF YOU GET A DIAGNOSIS, MAKE SURE YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND BE OPEN AND HONEST WITH THE PEOPLE THAT YOU BRING INTO YOUR LIFE. WELL, TO THE AUDIENCE, I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS SHOW. I THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. AND WITH THAT, I'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME. ♪

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