Sunday, December 26, 2010
Elgin Prachett is forty-five years old and he is HIV positive. He was diagnosed in 1983. To meet Elgin is to be inspired. He is bright, witty, warm and open to whatever the next moment might offer. He loves his church and sings in the choir. A latex condom would have protected Elgin from the HIV virus. He is one among many of us who has made the mistake of having unprotected sex. Few of us who have reached adulthood can honestly say, “I have never had unprotected sex.” Most of us know what it is to be overwhelmed by our hormones and careless about our own safety. Too many of us are infected with HIV because of our failure to use a latex condom. Elgin takes his meds, eats well, sleeps well and is an encouragement to many others who live with the HIV infection. He got tested and he took the prescribed treatment.
In 1999, the prescribed treatment was failing Elgin. His viral load was high while his immune system was almost completely ineffective. That same year, an on-the-job injury blinded Elgin. Depressed and secluded, he did not expect to live much longer. The infectious disease doctor at the MedPlex Adult Special Care Unit prescribed nine new medications and the medications brought Elgin back to life, restoring his strength and his self confidence. It takes discipline and determination to take the medications as prescribed and without fail. Elgin is determined to live with his infection.
Elgin rides the bus to school where he is taking classes in culinary arts and business. He attends classes at Friends for Life’s Wellness University. And he has established an entire support system of friendships through his regular contact with the Friends for Life community on Cleveland Street. Elgin says, “Friends for Life made me want to live again. Although I am blind, I can see a whole life ahead of me.”