Treating AIDS: Politics of Difference, Paradox of Prevention

By Thurka Sangaramoorthy | Go to book overview

4
Treating Citizens
The Promise of Positive Living

I met Jacques Chantal through his social worker, Miriam Spencer, at Miami General Hospital. Miriam characterized Jacques as a “successful” patient and an “ideal” person to answer questions about HIV/AIDS in the Haitian community. When we first met, Jacques—openly and without hesitation—told me that he was gay, in his late twenties, and in the country illegally, and that he had been HIVpositive for several years. He explained that he had come to the United States with his family legally as a young child but had then been deported to Haiti as a teenager for attempting to sell $20 of marijuana to an undercover policeman. He had known his HIV-positive status before he was deported. When his health began to deteriorate in Haiti, he returned to the United States illegally thanks to a technical error on the government’s part, in order to have access to better medications and health care.

One hot morning in mid-July, I set out to accompany Jacques on a series of appointments with various social and medical institutions. The first appointment was to find out about affordable housing at Safe Haven, an organization that provided social and psychological services to the poor. Jacques was excited and eager to find out more about the independent housing options that they offered because he hated where he was currently staying: a residential facility for the homeless, where he had to endure frequent thefts of his belongings and aggressive harassment from other residents. He read the brochure about Safe Haven to me several times while I drove, as if he were trying to memorize the lines:

Safe Haven offers a continuum of residential settings ranging from highly
supervised group homes to more independent satellite apartments. All
residences are integrated into the community. The members are assisted
with skills associated with daily living, i.e. education regarding self-care
living skills, interpersonal communication, personal hygiene, grooming

-82-

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