What a Difference a Quarter Century makes….or
A New Life, New Dreams & New Possibilities
As a 23 year plus survivor of HIV/AIDS it is still easy to look back on the early 80s and the devastation this pandemic took on me personally, as well as, all those around and close to me and remember. To recount how all this affected me both personally and professionally could possibly fill yet another book on the subject; but I chose not to dwell on the past but rather look to the future.
I don’t know that any of us long term survivors will ever fully recover and fit into the new “managed care” model our governments have adopted, yet so many of us are still here recovering, rebuilding and often thriving. We continue to meet new challenges, yet many are still uncertain of their futures.
Having worked in the HIV/AIDS support system for close to 15 years, I know so many individuals that are exhausted, lethargic, unmotivated and burnout as a result of this war we have been fighting both personally and politically and many continue to wage the battle to this day. Recovery is certainly not an easy process but one certainly worth trying in light of our increased longevity.
At the beginning of the epidemic back in the mid eighties new and emerging agencies all across the US and Canada were frantically rallying in an effort to help those dying have the best possible financial and medical support systems in place until they passed. Miraculously the late 90s brought us a whole new regiment of medications, though terribly toxic, began to help us stabilize, get our feet back on the ground and able to re-evaluate our place in this complex and twisted reality we now live in.
We are all surprised that we are not dead yet, nor necessarily dying, at least not at the rates of the 80s and early 90s. I was supposed to be dead 21 years ago and here I am today working towards new goals and dreams, certainly different from those I had in my 20s and 30s but still dreaming with enormous support and guidance from my remaining friends, family and my personal life coach.
In the US in the past five years or so, Social Security laws and guidelines have been changing radically to support and encourage all the disabled to reconsider returning to school to learn a new trade/profession or just returning to work in an effort to reconnect to their communities, better their financial realities as we approach retirement and above all, allow us to dream and dare to imagine again.
In the past as fragile, disabled
individuals, our greatest fears revolved around loosing our medical benefits
and financial support. As we all know, at least here in the
Fortunately a long term survivor and friend of mine that was at the forefront of the disability benefits movement in the 80s and 90s has now 25 years later, turned his passions towards disability benefits trainings in an effort to educate professionals and consumers to assure they receive the best possible health care and income coverage. He has now expanded his reach to encompass the entire disabled community.
More importantly, he has added components covering all the new safety nets available here in the US if one chooses to explore and test the waters with respect to returning to the workplace/school or at least trying to and loose absolutely nothing during your trial process alleviating all those falsely founded fears.
I have seen this work having
hosted 5 of these trainings over the past seven years at a previous ASO
employer I worked for 8 years. The result of those trainings was that over 150 men
and women explored their new options and tired. Many had great success with new
careers and benefits packages; while many others tried and at least improved
their financial futures as a result of their efforts but were unable to
persevere through the entire process.
As pioneers in the disability benefits arena, we can all be proud that our efforts have benefited and empowered the entire disabled community not just those with HIV/AIDS and I know we will continue to do so as time and medical advances move forward. We as a collective have always been pioneers in one area or another of this disease and am sure will continue to be so for the indefinite future.
If you would like more
information on return to work/school here in the
“Active listening is the key to your success”