Persevering and Thriving

Stan's Story


May 10, 2021



Stan's Story

Stan is a long-term HIV survivor who first tested positive in the early 2000s. “I thought I had escaped the HIV and the AIDS epidemic,” he says. “I thought I protected myself enough.” But he got ill enough that he ended up in the hospital, where he found that he had a viral load of 100,000 and T cells at 27.

He began searching for more comprehensive mental and physical care, which led him to the Damien Center. “I have a lot of gratitude for the Damien Center. They’ve empowered me in a lot of different ways. One is just getting the basics. Hey, if you need food, let us help you. If you need a place to stay, let us help you find a place.” Stan got assistance from the food pantry and help with a deposit for his apartment. “First you have to take care of your basic needs,” he says, “and then you can start building on yourself.”

“I needed care coordination. I needed health care. I needed health insurance. I needed psychological support.” And he still uses many of these services, he adds. “What I need in life is there at the Damien Center.”

When Stan needed to know how COVID-19 might impact his health, he made a personal call to his clinic provider at the Damien Center. He trusted his provider, who he had been seeing for four years. Armed with feedback for his specific situation, Stan was able to make informed decisions about how to cope during the pandemic.

Now, with his basic needs met, Stan is thriving.

One of the staff members who works with Stan says he has seen Stan grow to believe that he is capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to. “I’ve seen his self-confidence grow so much. And now he is out in the community on a regular basis, engaging in social activities that he’s never engaged in before, meeting new people that he would have never met in previous periods of his life. He’s started a new job. He has really just invested so much more in himself.”

He says we can learn from Stan how to face life’s inevitable obstacles. “If you remain persistent and resilient, and on a day-to-day basis you take steps toward those goals, things can and will come together.”

“I’m hopeful that someday there will be a cure,” says Stan. “But because of medicine today in places like the Damien Center, we have the ability to manage HIV and AIDS. And still have a very good quality of life and a [long] life.”

Supporting the Center

Without Damien Center, “I wouldn’t have anywhere to go for the labs, to see the doctor, for follow-up care,” Stan says. “There have been times that I used the pantry for my only means of a source of food for maybe a week.”

“If those donations were not there, people suffer... People might go without. People might not feel that somebody cares, that there’s [not] an entity that’s there for them.”

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