Between vastly improved medications and other crises, HIV has faded from the headlines. But for people living with HIV, it remains a very relevant part of their lives. Couple that with the fact that South Florida remains a hot spot for new infections, and support is still as critical as it's ever been.
POZitive Attitudes is a long-running support group for HIV+ people, and has been run by Steve Stagon for more than 15 years.
“Personally, it’s a way of dealing with being HIV+,” Stagon said after a recent meeting. “Helping other people takes me out of my own personal issues.”
Raising awareness is a passion of Stagon, who founded the World AIDS Museum and works with AHF on their HIV testing.
They meet Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the ArtServe building at 1350 E. Sunrise Boulevard. Some weeks they have movie night, others will be game night, while others will be a discussion of issues facing the HIV+ community or the LGBT community in general.
The night OutSFL attended, Stagon and co-facilitator John Ramos were discussing new, anti-LGBT laws in Florida.
About two dozen, mostly long term patients gave their opinions. Afterward, Andrew, who is 30 years positive, said the focus of the group has changed over the years.
“We used to talk about stigma a lot, coming out to families, acceptance and more. Those aren’t the issues these guys are facing now. The truth is, HIV is part of all our lives, but it’s probably not the most defining thing. Back in 2003, it was one of the most important things.”
To learn more about POZitive Attitudes, visit PozitiveAttitudes.com.