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GMHC Specialist: HIV Treatment Adherence Is Pivotal
The Switch

GMHC Specialist: HIV Treatment Adherence Is Pivotal

"Having an open and honest relationship with your doctor is important"

The Switch spotlights people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), as they share their lived experiences and the impact making “the switch” to positive lifestyle and health routines has had on their lives.

Toni Barkley, who works with the LGBTQ+ community in the field of HIV and AIDS, found out she was HIV positive in 1997, but today she is everything plus: A mother, a grandmother, a traveler, a student, and she’s been in the military. But most of all, Toni helps her community by working with Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) since 2004.

“GMHC is considered to be the grandfather agency for HIV and AIDS. You walk into GMHC and guarantee whatever issue that you have, we can help you before you walk out that door,” Toni says with a smile on her face. Toni has been a successful advocate for anyone who walks through the halls of GMHC and needs support. That’s because as soon as Toni found out her status, she needed support herself.

“My physician put me right into a support system. I saw beautiful people, and they’re all positive. They’re living productive and successful lives. Once I saw that I was able to accept my diagnosis better,” Toni shares. But what’s most important for Toni is being treatment adherent. “Treatment adherence isn’t just for people who are HIV positive. It’s for people who are diagnosed with all types of illnesses. Being treatment adherence also means having an open and honest relationship with your doctor,” Toni says with conviction.

Toni takes that mantra and uses it whenever someone needs her help at GMHC. And she’ll continue to offer that guidance and support that her community needs, for as long as she can.

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