“It helped me come out of my shell. I did this group called Healthy Relationships, that brought me out a little bit but it was a super small group, like four of us. I got more comfortable but I had to go through a lot of coaxing, I don’t do well in groups. But I would say that this group is kind of what helped me realize ‘This is not so bad’, because I got to meet with others who were positive, even if it was a few. It was still the interaction, that support… that was my first step in coming out. I started doing more volunteer work, helping with events like this, doing the setup and cleanup. Part of the reason that I started doing so much volunteer work - I mean I had already done volunteer work throughout my life - but UNIFIED was special to me, that’s who helped me. They helped me deal with it emotionally, physically, helped me with my doctors, a bridge card, getting my insurance right, making sure I’m on the right meds, making sure I’m going to my doctor’s appointments.

But it had been months and months before I had been to a doctor’s appointment by myself. Because I equate it as never going to be some good news. My case manager at UNIFIED would have to be with me because I’d have a lot of problems and anxiety attacks. The doctors were giving me statistics like my viral load is 900,000 and I’m just inundated with all this information and all this medical lingo - I didn’t know anything about it. It’s just like a foreign language, I don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about. I came to a point where I was going to embrace it and educate myself. And that was a part of my learning process where I was going to be more comfortable, confident, positive, and an active member in the positive community.” (4/4)