He Didn't Think He Would Make It

A former client reached out to us with this success story that we absolutely had to share with you. We’re happy to introduce you to Leo.

When I first came to Lifelong, it had been about 8 years since I was diagnosed with HIV. I hadn’t thought I would make it to the year 2000, and while I survived, I was self-employed and soon I was underemployed. It was a struggle to afford the health insurance and medication I needed to make my life possible. That’s when I knew I couldn’t do this on my own.

Walking in the door at Lifelong that first time was a positive but difficult step. I felt like I was outing myself, but my fears quickly went away because I found a community that cared about me. Lifelong (then under the name Northwest AIDS Foundation) literally provided me with a lifeline to access affordable health insurance and co-pay assistance before I got on to great, employer-based insurance.

Now I have been undetectable for 18 years. I am lucky to work at UW’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute on a great team researching health disparities among Native Americans. I am able to remain active in the LGBTQ community as a board member for Generations Aging with Pride. And I’m a bit of a health nut. I haven’t owned a car for over 15 years, and I ride my bike everywhere daily, sometimes more than 30 miles. Now there’s no reason not to expect that I can’t live into my 90s like so many of my relatives have.

If Lifelong had not provided a bridge for me, this might be a much different story.

The HIV landscape has changed significantly since I was diagnosed in 1992 and I have been glad to see Lifelong evolve to serve the changing needs of people living with HIV and chronic illnesses. It’s not just about getting people the food and medicine they need, it’s about caring for people’s complete health, whether that means providing housing assistance, PrEP navigation, transportation to doctor appointments, or any of the other barriers that can prevent people from living their fullest lives.

I don’t need Lifelong’s services anymore and that is something to celebrate, but success stories like mine can only be created by your generosity.

Will you give today to give more people a chance for their own success stories?