October 2014 - Susman
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Enjoying life with HIV or AIDS

Life can change in a matter of seconds–accidents, births, new jobs; the list is exhaustible. Hearing the news that you have HIV or AIDS is one of those moments, one of those life changing, harrowing, irreversable moments. But living with HIV or AIDS doesn’t have to be the defining factor that controls how you live.

When I was fourteen, my uncle revealed to my family that he had contracted HIV from his long time partner, who was not aware that he was infected. It was the late 1990’s, and not much was known about either HIV or AIDS; the news seemed devestating and final. My uncle was a smart man, and immediatly made arrangments for those he loved. He purchased life insurance that would support his daughter till she reached a legal age, and drafted a will that covered every basis.

But the years passed, and my uncle continued to thrive; we went on vacations all over the U.S., he and his partner took up pottery making, and his daughter graduated highschool with a full scholarship. Time moved forward, and it became easier and easier to forget about the disease that once consumed his every thought.

He, like millions of others living with HIV and AIDS, finally decided that his life was still his own. Nearly fiften years have passed, and both my uncle and his partner are still active, happy, thriving members of society. HIV is still a part of who he is, but it is by no means the majority of who he is.

If you have recently found out that you are HIV or AIDS positive, it is perfectly ok, even advisable, to play it safe and plan for the future. But remember to also live in the now. Enjoy each day, and spend time with the people that love you. Life can change in a matter of seconds, but it doesn’t have to always be for the worse, even when it seems that way at first.

Louis- the Tale of Redemption

Louis was a man who lived by his own rules. He did what he wanted and never cared who got hurt in the process. Then in the 90’s this man in his early forties found out he had AIDS. He found out when he was in the hospital for an unrelated matter.

Being diagnosed with AIDS made Louis re-evaluate the way his life was going and what he was doing. He first got life insurance (which was no easy task at this time) and then set out to make things right with his family. He decided to look up his daughter who he had not seen since she was 9. She was now 20 years old and had two children.

He spent his last few years getting to know his daughter and making up for lost time. He got to spend time with his grandchildren as well as his nieces and nephews. He had been estranged from much of the family because of the way he had treated them in the past. He used his time to make amends and regain trust as well as bond with the people he loved. At first he worried that his pride would make this impossible, he realized in the end that he cared about his family more than his pride. When he passed, he was surrounded by not only his daughter, but his siblings and father as well.

Living with HIV, the Positive Side

When HIV was first discovered it was pretty much a death sentence. People were not expected to live very long after their diagnoses and that made getting life insurance difficult. Because of major drug developments and a better understanding of the disease people are living longer than ever with HIV.

Even those born with HIV, who have been on meds are their life, are now living a full and healthy life. They are going to school, dating, getting married, and even having children. They no longer need to fear the discrimination that was once so prevalent to those born with the disease because there is more understanding and education on it.

Those who find in their twenties and thirties are still going to college and getting jobs. They have access to wonderful counseling centers that are dedicated to serving those who are HIV positive. They have had some medical issues, but are still healthy because of advances in treatment.

Those who were diagnosed later in life have had to endure many obstacles. Some of them have had HIV for twenty plus years and have been able to see their children grow up and have children of their own. This is giving hope to all of those who have been diagnosed with HIV. They are seeing that they do have a future after all.

What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down On The Highway

Transportation_FlatTireYou are driving down the highway when suddenly you have car trouble. The National Safety Council suggests the following measures when your car breaks down or has a flat tire on the highway.

At the first sign of car trouble, gently and smoothly take your foot off the accelerator. Do not brake hard or suddenly. Carefully work your vehicle toward the breakdown lane or the side of the road. If you are on an interstate, try to reach an exit. Signal your intentions to drivers behind you. If it is necessary to change lanes, watch your mirrors and the traffic around you closely.

Once off the road, make your car visible. Put reflectorized triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers; use your emergency flashers. If it is dark, turn on the interior dome light.

When you have a flat tire, be certain that you can change it safely without being close to traffic. If that is possible, change the tire as you normally would. Remember, safety must take precedence over your schedule or whatever other concerns you may have.

However, when the car is beyond repair, it is best to get professional help. Do not try to flag down other vehicles. Raise your hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out a window so police officers or tow truck operators will know help is needed. Don’t stand behind or next to your vehicle. If the car is in the roadway, stand away from the vehicle and wait for help to arrive.

If your car is safely out of traffic, wait inside the vehicle with the doors locked. Use your cellular phone to call for help. If someone stops and offers to help, open the window slightly and ask them to call the police.

Watch for a uniformed police officer or other emergency personnel. All interstate highways and major roads are patrolled regularly. Also, some highways have special “call-for-help” phones.

It is inadvisable to walk on an interstate, especially during inclement weather. However, if you can reach a source of help on foot, without jeopardizing your physical or personal safety, try the direct approach by walking. Keep as far from traffic as possible and walk on the right side of the roadway. Never attempt to cross a multi-lane, high speed
roadway.

Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The National Safety Council makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.  

Source: National Safety Council, “What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down On The Highway” nsc.org website. Accessed October 14, 2014. http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/What_to_Do_If_Your_Car_Breaks_Down_on_the_Highway.pdf

© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented. Read more.

Get Tested Earlier for HIV

A 25-year old HIV positive male who recently graduated from a reputable university is now trying to put his life back together. Kevin has always had a good positive outlook about life. He has always been a smart-looking individual who received a good education at one of the top universities in California. No one would have ever predicted that this young man would have HIV. After engaging in unprotected sex, Kevin tested positive for HIV. Although he knew there was a risk, he expected the worst outcome and did not take the news very well.

Kevin considered life insurance right away to protect his unpredictable future. He has been living in secrecy while trying to live a healthy lifestyle on his own. At first he worried about medications because of the financial burden and side effects. Kevin is now more confident since he was able to obtain a new life insurance policy. It is very important to get tested when you are in doubt after having an unprotected sexual encounter. HIV is very controllable as long as you start taking medication at its earliest stage. Since maintaining your state of health is a long process, do the right thing and get tested early.

Kevin is living a normal life despite his health condition. Living through it positively is a choice of doing the best you can for yourself. HIV does not change who you are; do not isolate yourself or the disease because for someone who is HIV positive, acceptance is very essential.

Diagnosed with HIV

I didn’t take my diagnosis very well when the doctor told me I had HIV. I sat there, in stunned silence as the doctor left me alone with my thoughts. I didn’t know what to do. I picked up a few containers of wipes and cotton swabs, smashed them against the wall and left. I had to return a few days later to pay. Driving in the car upset is never a good idea. I’m not sure how many accidents I could have caused or how many lights I blew though, but I didn’t care. Rather die from a car accident than AIDS. I had life insurance, so who cared. I drove right to my favorite bar and, at 2 pm, drunk myself into a three day stooper.

My sister snapped me out of it. For a few weeks I did nothing but feel sorry for myself. But as my sister slapped me awake, she pointed out that I could either spend the rest of my life feeling bad for myself, or spend the rest of my life living and enjoying every moment of it. That happened 10 years ago, and since then I try to go out and live every day, as it is my last, because after all, today could be anyone’s last day, so we might as well make it a good one.

Don’t Take Life For Granted

Life is a gift. It is a precious gift we all take for granted. This isn’t a knock on anyone in particular, it just is something we don’t really think about, the same as breathing or waking up in the morning. We don’t really think about these things, but in all honesty, it is something we should. To be alive. To live and to love. To see the great wonders of the world and to experience life is truly the best gift of all. While we all feel pain, sadness and guilt at different parts of our life, it does not undo that we are alive and can feel the world around us. It is sad that not all of us are able to open up to the world, but after I learned of my HIV, it made me look at life and realize that, up to that point in time, I had taken it all for granted, and after I moved past the sudden shock and depression of the diagnosis, I decided to never take life for granted ever again.

Of course, I did take out some protective measures, such as life insurance, to ensure my family can continue living their lives in peace and comfort. After all, while I might have to live with HIV, there is no reason they should feel the side effects after I am gone.

How Life with HIV Has Improved

Growing up, I always heard how contracting HIV essentially was a death sentence. Medication could do very little to actually make life better, and while it could hold off the eventual development of AIDS, most people would be diagnosed with AIDS within a decade and then die a few years after that. However, the times have drastically changed and I must say, while I would never wish HIV on anyone, I am glad I contracted the virus within the last few years and not back in the 80s.

After I obtained my life insurance policy, I decided to go out and get my annual physical. It was at this time I was told I had HIV. Thankfully, I found out early on, so I could start taking medication and protect my immune system. It is very important to protect the immune system as quickly as possible.

While I take medication in order to fight the HIV and protect my immune system, this is something that I can now live with, without having to fear that it is eventually going to turn to AIDS and kill me. In fact, as long as I live a healthy, active lifestyle, I do believe I can live an exceptional life, just like anyone else and truly make a different in the world around me.

How HIV Has Changed My Life…For the Better

Yes, it is true, nobody actually wants HIV. I didn’t wake up one morning and think "You know, I really hope the doctor tells me today that I have HIV." However, that simply is not how life works. You are tossed a curve ball, and while there are things I wish I would not have done to contract the virus, knowing that I have HIV is something that has totally and completely changed my life, for the better.

Before HIV, I would take for granted the time spent with my family. If my mom called on the phone, maybe I’d answer, or maybe not. I’d often avoid spending time with my sisters, simply because I did not want to hear about their days and have to deal with them complaining about what happened at work (even though they have husbands for this). I’d also back out on my friends all the time, simply because I had a sudden change of heart. However, HIV has given me a sudden change of heart. I now look forward to the conversations, spend more time with my friends, and even talk to them about everything from sports to life insurance, because I want to make sure we are close and I don’t miss out on the important things in life, which is ultimately the people.

Life and HIV

Life with HIV is not as bad as most people might think. No, I don’t live in a hospital outfit day after day, avoiding the sun at all cost and trying to skip out on human interaction, simply because a single cold might destroy my day. I am also not popping a few hundred pills every day either. While I do have to take special medication and it is important for me to avoid certain situations where the majority of people have the flu or a cold, my life really isn’t different from anyone else out there, outside of the fact that I have HIV.

I still wake up in the morning, take a shower, head out to work, hit the gym after work and enjoy dinner when I get home. Everything I do is basically what anyone else might do as well. The medication they now sell and produce to people such as myself is truly amazing. While there is no wonder drug that is available yet to completely kill the HIV, I am able to keep it at bay, which is the next best thing.

Like most other people I live in a home, own my own life insurance and go to the dentist. All of this is important to many other people, just the same as it is to me.