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The Switch

How Conquering Fear Can Help You Achieve Your Long-Term HIV Treatment/Health Goals

How Conquering Fear Can Help You Achieve Your Long-Term HIV Treatment/Health Goals

Watch New York native Craig Washington discuss his experience with fear and not letting it control his HIV diagnosis. 

The Switch is a video series about sharing positive lifestyles and health routines to help you thrive while living with HIV. In this series, you will hear from people living with HIV from varying backgrounds, with a focus on southern states where HIV is disproportionately prevalent. Listen to them talk candidly about positive changes they have made in their daily lives, including their approach to HIV treatment. The individuals share their lived experiences and the impact making “the switch” has had on them.

Craig Washington has been living with HIV for over 35 years and the mindset he started with has evolved into something meaningful. But when he was first diagnosed with HIV, Craig was afraid. 

“Well, I've been living with HIV for decades, at this point for the greater part of my life, which it’s still striking to hear myself say that I became infected and aware of my infection in those early..years..where there was no apparent hope. And at that time, I think that my mindset there was two areas, two places where I was at the same time. One was fear and anxiety.” 

What helped Craig continue to live his life was the faith he had that his life had meaning, and that he wasn’t going to die.

“But there was also faith that I had. There was a sense that, and I think that was clearly God speaking to and through me, that I was not going to immediately die from this. This was not going to take me out and I lived by that. So, I never even showed early signs of HIV infection in 1985.”

Throughout his life, Craig has been able to find purpose in his diagnosis due to his changed mindset and the faith that he has. He looks towards the Black, gay men who came before him that fought tirelessly to advocate for those living with HIV.

“Through the years, I've not only been loved and supported but I’ve also become very much active in my role in HIV advocacy and prevention. It's definitely given me a sense of purpose to this day when I write and when I speak, I carry with me the spirit and the model of Black, gay men in particular who didn't live to see where we are now, where we've arrived.”

For Craig, his life’s purpose is to follow in the footsteps of those trailblazers who came before. If Craig hadn’t found his purpose or changed his mindset, he may not have made it to today.

“I feel like that's part of why I'm here, is to continue that work. I feel that I'm a part of that lineage and I feel that that's also kept me alive. I think I'm here to live, to tell the history, the past, as well as speak to the present. That's how my mindset has changed.”

RELATED | Just Diagnosed: How to Take Charge of Your HIV Care

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