Mark asks you to choose compassion over stigma

Mark Client Stigma Story

I’ve been told I have nine lives for the number of times I’ve almost died during my 31 year journey with HIV. Recently, the care team at Casey House treated me with compassion and without judgement to give me one more. I’m thankful, because stigma-free HIV care is uncommon.

Those judgmental words have stayed with me. I contracted HIV through a blood transfusion. Right after my diagnosis, while reconciling being HIV+ I was told, “you would have gotten AIDS anyways because of your lifestyle,” the ‘lifestyle’ of a gay man.

I felt the sting of stigma again years later.

I was gravely ill, but hopeful about a new drug treatment that was saving lives. When I inquired about the drug with my HIV specialist, I was immediately dismissed with the words, “you don’t have long to live, so there’s no point”. I eventually got treatment, maintained my independence and managed to live in relatively good health. Until three years ago.

I was experiencing severe symptoms that prevented me from eating. A year of inconclusive testing left me feeling hopeless. After hearing, “you will just have to live with it,” I needed someone to care; I needed someone to believe in me.

I reached out to Casey House; I didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Julianna, my Casey House nurse believed in me. Julianna listened and offered validation that my symptoms were real. She investigated alongside me, encouraging me to pursue potential solutions. She gave me the hope I needed to keep going.

My inability to eat compromised my health and my weight became so dangerously low it prevented me from qualifying for a procedure that could stop the symptoms. Then a respite bed opened up.

With two weeks of 24-hour care at Casey House, the team stabilized my health and helped me gain enough weight to undergo the procedure; then supported me through my recovery.

Casey House gave me back my life. Stigma-free care validated me. I was given health care without judgement, respite with full-time specialized treatment that isn’t available anywhere else.

Please choose compassion over stigma and give to Casey House this holiday season.

A special gift from you could help other men and women who are struggling to survive with HIV and need the care that only Casey House can provide.

With my deepest gratitude,

Mark S.
Casey House client

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