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Nathan Townshend Is #19 of Our Most Amazing HIV+ People of 2018

Nathan Townshend

The activist is doing innovative work connecting PTSD and HIV in the black MSM community.

Nathan Townsend has given HIV-positive folks a healthier perspective of what it means to be poz, through his wellness workshop series, “Living a Life of PoZabilities.” After a near fatal car accident sparked PTSD, and his own issues with addiction,  Townsend says, “While on [a] journey of recovery, I started looking at the unaddressed needs of the HIV community from an emotional wellness perspective.”

In 2004, Townsend survived neutropenia (an abnormally low level of a certain white blood cells) and an almost total collapse of his immune system. He was hospitalized for 40 days and required a series of blood transfusions. “HIV has made me appreciate this gift called life, and living with AIDS has helped me to realize my mortality,” he shares. “For years all of my efforts were self-serving and personally unfulfilling until I started this path of selfless ministry… I’ve [also] stopped drinking and smoking and being led by my desires.”

For eight years, Townsend served as the housing coordinator, HIV tester, counselor, and prevention educator at an HIV group home. He recently moved to Atlanta, arriving on World AIDS Day, exactly a dozen years after he first spoke publicly about being poz (at Bucks County Community College, outside Philadelphia). Since that day, he’s become a consultant with Merck and a presenter for the Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] on limited health literacy in the black MSM community. Today, Townsend quips, “Most of my conversations are about what happens beneath the sheets!”

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