I am riding in the 2021 TogetheRide for AIDS/LifeCycle to raise critical funds to support the work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Together we are riding 1.2 million miles to honor the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV. I am personally committed to riding 2014 miles in contribution to this effort. The 2014 miles represents the year I was diagnosed with HIV which drastically changed my career and life goals.
Our community is dedicated to ensuring that all people have access to testing, care and prevention services. Join us in this endeavor and together we can end AIDS!
I was diagnosed with HIV in June 2014, which ended my flying career. My military commander and doctor sought a waiver to allow me to continue serving as a C-130J Loadmaster. The waiver was rejected due to higher headquarters claiming no waiver has ever been granted for HIV+ personnel. I was removed from my flying career and I was reclassified into a non-flying career.
The Air Force coded me as "C-2" which prevented me from serving in a combat role and limited most overseas locations. In my non-flying position, I had volunteered for deployment twice only to be denied due to my status. I applied for other non-flying jobs only to get blocked by my local leadership because they didn't know how to deal with my status and the amount of human resource paperwork it might of required. I dealt with HIV/AIDS jokes and plain ignorant comments amongst my peers and leadership. My maintenance commander once pointed to a bandage I had on my head after an outpatient procedure and asked, "What are you exposing my people to?"
I had no confidence that my leadership wanted to develop myself further as a military professional and I was left to quietly serve my time until I would be forced out of my job due to new policies targeting HIV+ personnel. There are currently lawsuits challenging the policies limiting HIV+ military members from serving their country. I eventually chose to leave the Air Force rather than fight for a career that offered no advancement and no satisfaction.
The discrimination and stigma exists! Luckily, I have access to medical treatment and I have maintained an undetectable status for 6 years now. We have lots of work ahead of us to fight the injustices we face with HIV/AIDS, but one thing we can do and is necessary to do is to LIVE OUR LIVES.
We're working together to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. We absolutely can end AIDS in our lifetime!!! Will you support me by making a donation today?