54-year-old Doug’s life changed three years ago when he contracted HIV. “I lost everything that day.” He lost his girlfriend, his job,his car got in a wreck and he says, “all my friends disappeared.” Doug used to work regularly as a journalist but eventually he got too sick to work. The virus made it difficult for him to concentrate and what used to take him only thirty minutes to write, now took nearly four hours. Doug was depressed.
A year after he was diagnosed, Doug happened upon RASP (Rural AIDS Services Program) at the Community Action, Inc. office. RASP has been working with Doug for the past two years but for the past few months Doug’s case manager has been Donna. “She’s a super hero.” Doug prefers to do things on his own, but Donna lays the groundwork for him. She reminds him to make his dental appointments and tells him whom to contact at the food bank among other things. “She’s not my case manager. She’s my mother.”
After working with RASP Doug is not as depressed as he once was. “It’s given me hope that everything is going to be taken care of.” He doesn’t feel so alone in his diagnosis as he did before. Donna is very supportive and understanding and takes a personal approach to her job. “She cares a lot about what she does”.
Doug is still not happy about his diagnosis but he says the virus right now is manageable and it’s not the worst thing going in his life. His toughest problems are financial since he is unable to work, but Donna may have helped him out there as well. She has set up a potential job opportunity for Doug pending psychoanalysis. In the meantime, Doug continues to live with HIV but has found solace and comfort in his church.