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A Valley man is sharing his story about living with HIV in hopes of helping others who may end up in the same situation.
Isadore Boni says it's not the virus that's hard to live with, but the stigma surrounding it.
At first people don't want to talk to you, or touch you, he says. Family members sometimes stop talking to you as well. But in the end, at least for him, things are starting to take a positive turn.
"It was the first time I was ever introduced to crystal meth," Boni says as he recalls the night he was infected in the late 90s. "All it took was just one little hit. I didn't care who I was with. Did I know who infected me? Yes. Am I upset about this person or at this person and my answer is no."
Boni says he takes full responsibility for his actions.
He tested positive for HIV on May 2, 2002. As a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, he knew telling his family and community would be tough.
"I knew how I was going to be treated," he said. "I knew they were going to reject me."
With no support system, Boni spent the next several years traveling, speaking, and making strides with the tribal council.
"I told them that we have to bring AIDS education to the reservation and I laid it all out in front of them and they all said 'OK,'" Boni said.
And in October his tribal council unanimously approved an HIV confidentiality agreement to their health code.
A big step, he says, in the right direction.
"Trying to get people to see things the way you see it, trying to place HIV as a priority, was the toughest part of this whole thing," Bon said.
Boni says to him World AIDS Day is about reflecting on where we've come with this disease, how we're treating it, and remembering those who've died, or who continue to fight the virus.
He's lived with it for 11 years and wants to remind people to get tested, because if you have HIV, early treatment can help you live a longer, healthier life.