Steve Arrington, the CEO of Akron AIDS Collaborate, has been a community outreach worker for the last 20 years, speaking, testing, and overseeing various HIV programs. The 65-year-old, African-American gay man (“bisexual sometimes,” he adds) is one of Ohio’s most passionate HIV advocates. He also mentors homeless youth who have no place to go — a feeling he experienced first-hand when he was diagnosed in 1985, while living in Denver, Colorado, during his “coming out days.”
His journey with HIV has spanned more than three decades, but the biggest surprise, he says, “has been coping with the ups and downs of HIV, then converting to AIDS. Perhaps the biggest surprise is getting health care with some kind of respect.”
One of the earliest HIV survivors in his area, Arrington has developed resistance to numerous HIV meds, which has left him with what he describes as a “65-year old body that feels like it’s 95.” While healthcare has been an ongoing issue during his HIV journey, he always strives to be a warrior. Despite his aging, Arrington (an “old school” ACT UP activist) continues to fight for the underdog in his community with a passionate voice, hoping to break the stigma of those living with HIV. It’s a mission he will not be stopping anytime soon.
Read more from our Long-Term Survivor series here.