Phil's Story of Living with HIV, and How TIHAN Made a
In 2001, Phil became deathly ill. Doctors diagnosed him with
a frightening array of serious ailments—Valley Fever, anemia,
spinal meningitis, and HIV. It was a tremendous shock. He spent
a total of eight months in a hospital and a nursing home rehab
center, where he had to re-learn the basics of everyday life
such as walking and taking care of himself.
Phil can talk from first-hand experience about living in a
nursing home and being told that you might never recover. He was
told that he might not even live too many more days. He can talk
about having a TIHAN CareTeam and the importance of visits from
TIHAN volunteers. "My TIHAN CareTeam visited me and helped
me during those difficult days. They didn't have to, but they
did. Their care and support surprised me, and also allowed my
caregiver to have a little time to take care of herself."
To read more about Phil's amazing journey to empowerment, click
Phil says that the CareTeam was a great supplement to the
love and support he received during those difficult years from
his daughter and from his care-giver, partner, and soul-mate
Forced to give up his career and devote himself full-time to
his own recovery, Phil did so. And after he felt strong enough,
someone told him to move from just surviving and to get busy and
start living again. So he started volunteering…
Phil is passionate about teaching others about HIV,
especially talking to young people who think it could never
happen to them. And he also serves as a role model to others
living with HIV, being "proof positive" that there can
be life after a near-death experience of advanced HIV disease.
Today, Phil is a deacon at his church, St. Mark's
Presbyterian, and he currently serves as the church's liaison to
TIHAN, making sure that HIV and TIHAN are mentioned in just
about every issue of the church newsletter. Recently, Phil
coordinated his congregation's sponsorship of TIHAN's Poz Cafe
lunch program. He also is a volunteer AIDS educator, teaching
HIV 101, sharing his 'Living With HIV' story, and representing
TIHAN at community events. Phil also volunteers as a TIHAN Link
Specialist, helping others living with HIV to get connected with
services in our community.
In December 2007, Phil gave the sermon on HIV/AIDS at
Southside Presbyterian Church, another one of our member
congregations. "Phil was wonderful and so many people were
thankful for the courage and endurance he exhibited in telling
what has to be a most difficult life experience," commented
Pastor Larry Graham-Johnson. "We as a congregation were
blessed by Phil's presence and we are challenged to be even more
aware and supportive of those so often overlooked…"
Phil also does a lot of volunteer work with the Southern
Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF), which nominated him for the
Community Quarterback Award of the Arizona Cardinals. Out of all
the nominations for volunteers in the state, the Arizona
Cardinals chose Phil for the award! This program honors
individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication, and commitment
to improving the communities in which they live through
volunteerism. Part of the funds that came with that award were
designated by Phil to help provide transportation to Poz Cafe
for those living with HIV who do not have other means of getting
to the lunch.
Although he doesn't always have the energy he wishes, Phil is
grateful to be able to stay active and involved. His viral load—a
measure of how much HIV virus is in his blood—has gone from 3
million to "undetectable," and his T-cells—a measure
of the strength of his immune system—have gone from 82 to well
over 500. And his gentle spirit and great sense of humor carry
him into the graces of many loving friends.
From the hospital bed in a nursing home to tireless activism
and energy devoted to raising awareness about preventing HIV and
empowering others to live as full and completely as possible,
Phil is a role model for many. Earlier this year, Phil was
honored with TIHAN's Empowerment Award because he exemplifies
the amazing contributions of the many HIV+ people who exhibit
exceptional courage and achievement.
Thank you, Phil, for the inspiration!
To make a contribution to support the
work of TIHAN, please click
here or call (520) 299-6647 to make a credit card
donation by phone. You can also mail your check, made payable to
TIHAN, to 2660 North 1st Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85719-2911.
Thank you for making a
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