Heroic in the face of stigma

From the San Francisco Examiner

Mike Shriver has been living with HIV for 32 years. His diagnosis has survived five mayoral administrations, two high-pressure years doing AIDS prevention and policy work in Washington, D.C., and death threats from haters. His physical and mental health have taken a toll, and his faith has been tested.

But he’s doing just fine.

“I really am the luckiest man alive,” he said. “I’m very privileged and I know it and I don’t ever forget how lucky I am.”

Mike Shriver leans against the National AIDS Memorial Grove’s large memorial boulder in Golden Gate Park (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

When Shriver began advocating for AIDS treatment in the 1990s, at the epidemic’s peak, one in 25 San Franciscans were said to have HIV and one in 50 had an AIDS diagnosis. Comparatively, HIV infections and deaths in The City today are at their lowest rate in decades, thanks to advancements in treatment and prevention and the work of Shriver and his cohorts fighting for funding and a cure.

After a sabbatical to tend to his own health issues, including diabetes and Hepatitis C, Shriver has returned to advocacy — as co-chair of the city and county’s HIV Community Planning Council and as a steering committee member of Getting To Zero SF, working to reduce HIV transmission and deaths by 2020. His hiatus helped him achieve a new level of physical wellness and a deeper awareness of what personal balance and recovery from grief and trauma look like.

“I’m no longer so self-destructive,” he said, referring to his former lifestyle that put community work first and his own health second. “Workaholism is the most socially acceptable and rewarded addiction.”

Read the full article.

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