The Complexities of Survival

For those who didn’t live through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic it is be hard to understand the complexities of survival. It doesn’t seem logical that the realization that you going to live can cause more upheavals than learning you are going to die. It doesn’t make sense unless you lived through it. Writer, activist and survivor Leslie L. Smith (Sally Field Can Play The Transexual) writes about this conundrum a moving piece published on his blog. Why A.S.S. Is About So Much More That Just Survivor’s Guilt.

It was unimaginably awful, that moment when I realized my crippling depression was due to the fact that I had a long and healthy life ahead of me.  I had spent my life living in acceptance of HIV’s terminal effect on life.  I had held that foremost truth in all my life choices.  But the rules had changed. I had to live.  At least that’s how it felt to me. I had to live a long life.  Not I get to, not I want to. I had to.

Please Read The Rest Here:

It is a profound piece. Thank you Leslie. If you are not regular readers of his wise and wonderful blog please check it out at You’ll be glad you did.

Research Exploring The Complexities of Survival

This time last year Let’s Kick ASS conducted an online survey of 218 individuals. 92% of you expressed an interest in being contacted for future research opportunities. Let’s Kick ASS is partnering with academics and researchers interested in look more closely at AIDS survivor syndrome and aspects of survival.

The first of those projects is actively recruiting now.

Let’s Kick ASS has been working with Redge Norton, a Master’s of Social Work candidate, whose conducting one-on-one interviews on the coping mechanisms used (or abandoned) by long-term AIDS survivors diagnosed between 1980 to 1996.

These interviews will last approximately 30 to 60 minutes in length and will take place at the offices of Shanti, Let’s Kick ASS or another agreed upon location that supports confidentiality. In addition, there might be a 15 minute telephone follow up call if Redge Norton needs to clarify anything you might have said during the interview. Only unique identifiers, not actual names, will be attached to the interviews.

If you would like to participate in this research project or any of the other planned research projects please email Please include your name, mailing address and phone number and we’ll put your name research list.

If you have questions or would like to contact Redge directly,  you can contact Redge Norton directly at or by calling 415-794-6723.

LKA Research

Kicking ASS in Positively Aware

The new issue of Positively Aware is out and online. On the Cover are Let’s Kick ASS cofounders Matt Sharp and Tez Anderson. Thank you to Positively Aware for spotlighting survivors aging with HIV in this issue!


Long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS take control of their destiny

By David Duran  PHOTOGRAPHY BY Duane Cramer

In the three decades that our world has been affected by HIV/AIDS, we have seen a rollercoaster of delayed responses, community togetherness, activism, drug advancements, and continued new infections. Thankfully, today’s epidemic stands in sharp contrast to the early days of AIDS.

Those who experienced the early years, however, describe it as a battle—a war really—one that claimed too many lives and left a community psychically devastated. For those who managed to make it out alive, especially those who are HIV-positive, life has changed dramatically. What once was a community of support has in some cases left these individuals feeling isolated and disconnected, as priorities in the HIV agenda have shifted. Many of these long-term survivors don’t necessarily connect with what’s currently happening in the HIV community, and frequently feel abandoned due to their being “healthy” and alive. But what many may not realize is that although these survivors are indeed alive, they aren’t necessarily living with perfect mental health. Aside from most long-term survivors, a large percentage of the HIV community has failed to acknowledge that experiencing the traumatic events of the early start of the AIDS epidemic can be devastating, often resulting in serious mental ramifications.

Read the rest here>>

And check out the rest of the issue including this remarkable piece from editor Jeff Berry “I’m A Survivor”

Here is an excerpt:

It’s necessary to hear and share these stories, for they define a generation. We have the opportunity to learn from our past, and to mentor and teach an entirely new generation—while honoring our history, and the fallen.



You want to subscribe to PA. Click here>>

Long-Term Survivors In OUT Magazine

Jon Jay Read wrote an excellent, moving piece about our experience. It is such a thrill to see long-term survivors finally getting the attention we deserve. And thanks to Jon for mentioning Let’s Kick ASS in the piece.

You can read the whole piece at the link below but here is an excerpt. You can follow him on Twitter. @JonJayRead I know I am.

Veterans of an Unpopular War: the bittersweet life of the long-term AIDS survivor

AIDS continues to characterize the lives of many of us. It buried our youth under a garbage heap of grief, terror, medical equipment, and funeral arrangements. It is in us — the virus, yes, but more to the point, the memory of what it did.

Our youth was spent catering to the intimate physical and emotional needs of dying loved ones — men and women with emaciated, ashen bodies rotted by cancers that medical professionals hadn’t seen for centuries; with lesions, tumors, and weeping wounds for which no amount of gauze was sufficient. We stood in showers, supporting bodies that buckled like marionettes as we washed them. We clasped their hands, comforted them, and joined them in their confusion, humiliation, and sadness. We held on to the possibility — tried to breathe air into it, for them and for ourselves — that ahead of us, in the next life perhaps, there might be something other than anguish.


Also check out our PSA. We have big things happening in January. Watch this space:

Let’s Kick ASS—AIDS Survivor Syndrome – PSA from Let’s Kick (ASS) on Vimeo.

Learn about AIDS Survivor Syndrome (ASS) in this PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker and TV producer @Jörg Fockele. Produced by HIV Story Project, Jörg and @Marc Smolowitz. Shot in the National AIDS Memorial Grove it features @Bonnie Parker De Angelis, @Vince Crisostomo @Michael Guillen, @Michael Siever, @Michael Hampton and @TezAnderson.


AIDS Survivors Struggle With Having A Future

AIDS survivors struggle with having a future

Half of those living with HIV in the US will be over 50 by 2015. Many long-term survivors never expected to live so long and are struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Andrew Bowen reports from San Francisco.

Tez Anderson smiles as he greets a small group of friends at Church Street Cafe in the Castro, San Francisco’s historically gay neighborhood. It’s Saturday morning, and his activist group is holding its weekly social meet-up.

“It’s a very informal gathering, no agenda topics, we just hang out and chat,” says Anderson. “It’s a purely social time for everybody to hang out and discuss whatever’s on their minds.”

Read the rest of the story here on Deutsche Welle’s website (It is German but in English):


Join us for Saturday Morning Caffeine, Chat and Connection for Long-Term Survivors at Church Street Cafe

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