We’re Still Here: A Celebration of Long-Term Surviors’ Month
Each day I wake up I am ready to kick HIV ass. It’s a challenge some days but I always come out on top. 9 years down and a lifetime to go.
Darriyhan is a 27-year-old gay man living in Atlanta. He was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 18 and has been kicking HIV ass since day one. Since his diagnosis, he’s committed himself to join the fight to end the HIV epidemic and help provide support to those living with HIV.
The past 12 years of living with HIV have shown me the true meaning of resilience, gratitude, and grace. I extend grace to myself during those hard days. I am grateful to still have hard days, and my resilience is resistance.
Tiommi Luckett is a native of Arkansas and a current resident of Little Rock. She identifies as a woman of trans experience of African descent. She is interested in conversations about restorative and transformative justice. She is an advocate for ending criminalization. As a Black woman of trans experience living with HIV in Arkansas, the potential for incarceration is ever-present. Tiommi believes that ending bailouts and pretrial detention, diverting resources to community for education, awareness, and sensitivity training can eliminate the continued murders of Black trans bodies everywhere.
As a long time survivor, I have been Living with HIV for 22 years. I am living and thriving with HIV and living my best life.
Tana Pradia is a mother of three children, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. I have been living with HIV since 1999. After almost dying from TB and having a T-Cell count of 14 and a viral load out of control. After being given a second chance I became a patient mentor at Thomas street. I took a Project Leap Class at RWPC and now sit on the planning council. From there I took the Positive Organizing Project to learn how to advocate and I’ve been one of the mentors for the last 5 years. I’m one of the Co-founders of the PWN-GHA chapters now the Texas Chapter. In 2019 I became the treasurer of the PWN board of directors.
I’m one of the Trainers for AIDS United POP grants that were awarded to the Texas Chapter. I am also the secretary of the Texans Living with HIV Network. In my journey in advocacy in 2018, I have become the 2019 Secretary of the Ryan White Planning Council here in Houston, and now the Chair of the Ryan White Planning Council for 2020. In 2019 I was part of the PWN Rapid Response Team of PWN-Texas team monitoring bill in the 86 Legislative Session here in Texas. I graduated from the 2018-2019 PWN Policy Fellowship. I have learned so much about policy.
In 2020 I was one of the leads for HIA/PWN-H-Town Power GOTV work we did in Houston through early voting and the November 3rd election to get people registered to vote and to the polls. In 2021 I am part of the 87 Legislative Session Rapid Response team PWN Texas Strike Force which monitors bills and mobilizes the community to take action in this session. In 2021 joining Houston in Action Steering committee has been great access to the work I do for the community.
In this journey for the last 6 years, from addiction, intimate partner violence, mental illness I love who I have become today. I never thought I would be doing the things I truly love and it keeps me sober and grounded.
When I was diagnosed in 1992, I had already developed Kaposi sarcoma lesions on my face and body, so I know what it’s like to literally hide yourself from the world. Today, I’m open about my HIV status to face stigma and to let people living with HIV that they are not alone.
Rick Guasco, 57, is the creative director of Positively Aware, the HIV treatment and health magazine published by TPAN. A native Chicagoan, he studied Journalism at Columbia College, graduating in 1985. In 1992, he discovered he was living with HIV when he developed Kaposi sarcoma, which the CDC categorized at the time as an “end-stage AIDS-defining illness.” He successfully underwent interferon treatment through a clinical trial. He first served as art director of Positively Aware in the mid-1990s, and then returned to the magazine in 2010. He created A Day with HIV, the magazine’s annual anti-stigma campaign. In 2016, he was diagnosed with anal cancer and successfully underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment in 2018. As an activist, he says, “We live by example so that people living with HIV are not alone.” He posts a picture every day of his daily HIV medication to his social media (@rickguasco). He credits his family, friends, and his faith for his continued good health. A science-fiction fan (particularly “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who”), Rick likes to quote a Vulcan saying: “We are here to serve.”
When I was twenty years old receiving a positive diagnosis of HIV, I begged God to give me ten more years. This July, I will be celebrating my 45th birthday. I celebrate each year on this earth and make it my life’s mission to fight for HIV. I have to remember those AIDS activists and protesters in the 80s who fought for and helped speed treatment for AIDS. They are the reason why I’m here today. I must build on their legacy and continue the fight. We have come far but still, have a ways to go in ending the HIV epidemic. Their lives, blood, sweat, and tears must not go in silence. I am their voice!
Nathan Maxey is a proud graduate of Texas Southern University (TSU) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and a Master of Public Administration. A passionate advocate with ten+ years of management experience in the healthcare and not-for-profit sectors. He lives the mantra, “Nothing for us without us,” because it summarizes his passion and vigor for HIV Advocacy as a person openly living with HIV for twenty-one years. Nathan has participated in several national programs and received awards and accolades for his work and meaningful involvement with the HIV community. Nathan is a board member of the Normal Anomaly Initiative. He recently started Nathan Maxey Consulting, LLC to branch out and expand his advocacy work. Nathan likes to relax, cook, have a cocktail or two, and spend time with his close family and friends.