Being happy is not being afraid

by Marcos D’Britto

I may have defects, live anxious and get angry sometimes, but do not forget that my life is the biggest company in the world. And I can prevent it from going bankrupt.

To be happy is to recognize that it is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings and periods of crisis.

To be happy is to stop being a victim of problems and become the author of the story itself.

It is crossing deserts out of itself, but being able to find an oasis in the recesses of your soul.

It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings. It is knowing how to talk about yourself. It is having the courage to hear ‘not’. It is to have security to receive a criticism, even if unjust.

Marcos D’Britto 💕

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To connect with Marcos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001033823067

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Inner Peace

by Marcos D’Britto

Inner peace is the most precious good you can cultivate. And as much as the world is full of stimuli, it sometimes needs to slow down. And if that’s the case, be able to live alone in peace. That it is possible to touch life after being ignored, kicked, changed. That’s the way it is, it happens after all. And, as cliché as it is, life always brings something better later. Nothing is irreplaceable. Nothing is greater than your peace, than your satisfaction with yourself. And if one is taking away their sleep, their hunger, their energy, take advantage of this “stripping” of things and take that person out of their life. Your well-being appreciates, and your heart also. Because no one is worth more than your peace.

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On the inside

by Timothy Hinkhouse

Hello there and happy holidays to those of you that get to read the words in this safe space! I don’t know what life is like beyond these walls because I have been in prison since the early 90’s. The holidays used to put people in a good head space or at least it did for the folks I used to know… Now I think the meaning of Christmas is way too commercialized from the shows I watch on television. I have a question for you. What does this time of year mean to you?

When I was out of prison I was the type of person that only cared about what I could get out of life no matter who I stepped on. Reflecting back on this time of my life, I was a real jerk to put it to you nicely. This was a bad time in my life when I was immature. Wow! I am sure glad that none of you knew me back then because you surely wouldn’t have liked me! 

Now I am an adult man at the ripe old age of 48 years old. Being a long term survivor with the HIV virus I have been taught life lessons that I probably would have never learned without it. What do I mean by this you are probably wondering? Remember when I said that I used to be all about myself? Now I have patience, humility, compassion and a heart that is filled with love for others. I love to help people that need me and spend time with the people I love and care about. 

Before I had become infected with HIV I didn’t even care about myself, so how could I care about anyone else? Over the years in the Oregon prison system I have learned how to be someone that could be counted on. I found the people that I gravitated to that were HIV positive had been homosexuals. They had their own issues of being discriminated against by other inmates and the staff. This association had put me in certain situations that ultimately led me into becoming an HIV advocate and standing up for my new found family members. I even had to bleed defending the rights and freedoms of my HIV positive family.

How is it living in free society with HIV? I can tell you that it is sometimes really difficult to be in a small populated community that knows everybody’s business. There are definite stigmas attached to being HIV positive even today with all of the information available. The most common thing I hear is that I must be a gay man because of my associations and my HIV status. Holy crap! I’ll say to you in frustration. How could people be so ignorant?! My job being an HIV advocate is never going to end at this rate! Look on the bright side, I guess??? I have job security, right? THANKS ignorant people! Sheesh!

Thankfully I am a large man that stands 6’3″ and I’m tipping the scales around 300lbs., so I don’t have many people that will say negative things to my face. For several years I have lived on units where most people don’t want to cause problems because they have it so good in here. They have good paying jobs and participate in programs that are only available to the men who stay out of trouble for more than 18 consecutive months. I guess that you can say that I earned my way onto this unit and I’d like to stay here?!

My job for the last 5 years at this prison has been the morning barber on my unit. For four of the last five years I have been a volunteer barber down in the infirmary for the sick folks and the permanently disabled that require full time hands-on-care. I love visiting the fellas down there and cheering them up. Every time I go down there I always have a joke to tell them too! I don’t know if you’ll get what I’m about to say… 

When I leave to come back to my unit, I always feel that I got something from them. The challenges some of them have to endure inspires me to keep on living my life with gratitude for what I have. I’ve found that I learn the little things that life is going to teach me in the strangest places. I am a better person for being able to listen and apply the things I’ve learned. 

I want to encourage each one of you reading this to pay attention to the little things in your life that might be trying to show you something that you didn’t know before or you are being reminded of once again in case you forgot. Have a great New Years and please be safe out there?! 

I hope that I have shared something with you that you can use in your day to day lives? Please share this to anyone you think would benefit from someone on the inside that wants to inspire anyone on the outside. Be kind to others. Tim

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To read Tim’s Blog: http://www.thebody.com/content/76435/hiv-on-the-inside.html

To connect with Tim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timothy.hinkhouse.1

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Introducing Timothy Hinkhouse

Hello there! My name is Tim Hinkhouse and I have been HIV positive since early 1990 when it was deemed an automatic death sentence. This coming March 2019 I will have been an HIV survivor for 29 long years. The sad thing about my HIV status, is that it led me to prison in the early 1990’s when this illness was killing more people than it should have before the invention of all the available medicines now there for us. 

That’s right ladies and gentlemen… I am incarcerated here in the Oregon prison system! Did I just blow your minds or what? “BOOM!” I know you are probably thinking to yourselves, “How in the world is this guy being able to post on this blog from prison? Does he have internet access?” The most simple answer, is that I am blessed to have a wonderful network support system of friends that are in the free world and they are allowing me to do so! No, I don’t have direct internet access. I do have the capability to send and receive emails which is how I can get this out for you to read.

I am honored to be able to write about being an HIV positive man and sharing with you my experiences in prison and how it has affected me. I’ll share with you how I’ve actually changed people’s perception of me and HIV. Don’t think that being in prison is all darkness and negativity unless that is all you surround yourself with. Actually, there are people around me that shine so bright that they brighten someone else’s day, including mine sometimes! Everyone should know that one person that is positive and upbeat all the time. You know the type..? They can find the silver lining anywhere and wants to make you see it too!

To be honest with you, I am not that guy. I am the guy that tries to always do the right thing and be compassionate to those that need me to be there for them. The blessings that come my way from doing the right thing are very generous. Since I have made this behavioral change I am a much better person now and happier!
Please be aware that I am open to making new friends and I will answer any questions that you may have. I get along better with people that are open minded and not quick to judge. I learned a long time ago that if you don’t give someone a chance to shine their light in your life then you might be missing something they could illuminate that needs to be looked at in your life. 

My email address is: hi.timothy7019@gmail.com to drop me a line and I’ll get back to you when I can. I usually check them on Monday and Fridays.

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To read Tim’s Blog: http://www.thebody.com/content/76435/hiv-on-the-inside.html

To connect with Tim on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timothy.hinkhouse.1

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Old or Young Activists (re-post)

This is a re-posting of “Old or Young Activists” written by David Semanchek and originally posted on Dec. 14, 2017.

Are we alike? Both look ahead and that’s good for our COMMUNITY. I think we are better working together than apart .  In the 80″s we were one, not OLD or YOUNG but  ONE. And look what that got us!  A LOT!  So, to people that say their outlook is not yours, you do not know a thing! We Do, to help all of our COMMUNITY not the OLD or YOUNG only, but ALL. In D.C. OLDER Gay men are  looked at with RESPECT! Because in time we all get old, and have worked really hard to get things we need in our COMMUNITY!

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Why is HIV still around? (re-post)

This is a re-posting of “Why is HIV still around?” written by David Semanchek and originally posted on Jan. 26, 2018.

In 1984 I got GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) we did not know a thing about it .  Name changed to  HIV and we know a lot about it and it’s still here, WHY?. In the 33 years that I had HIV!  I heard we will stop it in 2000 then 2010, it’s now 2017 and it’s still here , why? Are we spending money on things that don’t work?  Yes, I think so, it’s still here!  Now we have PrEP, it’s the new big thing. Will it really work? A BIG YES but it will not stop it all together.   We know the why HIV is still here it’s in the little room and has not come OUT !  As long as HIV is in the real small little room with only the people that run the room and not us to talk about it to tell our stories about the true side of HIV and the things it has put us through it will still be here!

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P/T Job Opportunity: Online Outreach Specialist

This is provided as a community resource and not an endorsement.

Online Outreach Specialist
University of Pittsburgh
HIV Prevention and Care Project

The Online Outreach Specialist will be paid hourly as a private contractor and will be required to conduct outreach in online venues frequented by men who have sex with men. The purpose of the outreach is to provide information about free HIV testing, HIV prevention, and linkage to care.
The Online Outreach Specialist must:
 Have experience in social networks such as Grindr, Facebook and Craigslist
 Be familiar with local HIV/AIDs and STD resources (testing, care and prevention)
 Have an extensive familiarity with minority and at-risk communities (primarily men who have sex with men)
 Be culturally competent in reaching out to at-risk youth populations
 Have excellent communication skills
 Have a working knowledge of word-processing applications
 Be able to maintain strict confidentiality with online contacts
Any necessary tools required to conduct online outreach will be provided by the HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh. The hourly rate for this position is $15/hr., with an expectation of roughly 10 hours per week.
Applicants for the position should send a cover letter and resume to:
Raymond Yeo
HIV Prevention and Care Project/Pitt Men’s Study
University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health
3520 Fifth Avenue
Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
rgy2@pitt.edu
fax: (412) 383-1513

Crossing the Line

Joint blog by David Semanchek and Mike Hellman

When we work together we show unity.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree with one another.  It does mean we must respect others point of view.  We are stronger as one voice when we continue to offer differing points of view.  We believe that stigma plays a critical role in our lives, both internal and external. This is not the time for HIV+ individuals to stigmatize one another.  For decades, spitting has been used as a method to make another feel inferior. Now is not the time to tear down bridges.  Some of us, we’ve become complacent. Our needs are met so we are not making waves. But we need to pay attention. Our livelihoods are under attack and being targeted. This will continue to be our focus to uplift our lives and remind us all what is truly important to live and not just survive. We need practical reminders and we need to live in reality.  Now is not the time to attack one another because today and always we will need each other to stand together in unity.

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Welcome!

Welcome to My Community Voices. Today we are launching a new interactive method to gather your thoughts and ideas on issues affecting HIV in the greater Pittsburgh area.  Over the past few months we have all experienced a number of political volleys that have kept us exposed and vulnerable to our health care and the care of those we love.  At the same time we have seen research study results  and scientific advances that bring hope and encouragement for a healthy future.  Along with keeping current on issues of importance to our community we will be introducing specific topics of interest each week to better understand your point of view.  This is the site where your voice matters.  We ask only that you be respectful of each other and value other’s opinions just as we value yours.