sylvester simmons – rising above hiv

sylvester simmons – rising above hiv 

photo by steed media service

human journal


The HIV virus is affecting more and more Americans every year. Even as more information becomes available to the general public, there are still those that don’t understand the realities of living with HIV. Sylvester Simmons knew that his life was inevitably changed after testing positive. “It was scary because I just wanted to die,” he says. “I didn’t know when I was gonna die. Everything was kind of blurred, I was closed-minded and I was very fearful. I found out in 1997 — March 13th.” 

Simmons struggled to reconcile with his illness, and to get over the prejudices of others. “People are fearful and they’re ignorant,” he says. “Some of them don’t even want to take time out to find out the truth.” 


Simmons’ pain became so great that he attempted to take his life several times over the next several years. “I’ve attempted suicide several times,” he says frankly. “My family members didn’t want me to eat out of plates and use the same ironing board. My brother wouldn’t let me sit on his son’s bed to play a video game.” 

But his life turned the corner when he found “Our Common Welfare” and Fay Brown. “She kept saying ‘it’s about living — not dying around here,’” says Simmons. “Today, I have an open mind. I’m living. I’ve already taken tests and tests and I’ve been undetected for years.” 

“Some [people] have gotten educated,” says Simmons of the current state of HIV awareness. “They’re looking at it with a different point of view now.” Simmons’ point of view is different as well. Now a married man — he has a whole new outlook on life and he wants people to understand that HIV is not a stop sign on the road of life. 

“I want to let [everyone] know that life is worth living,” he explains. “You made a mistake in life, you’ve got [to deal with the] consequences, but life goes on. It’s about living and caring about yourself and loving yourself again. Grab ahold to God.” –todd williams

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