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April 28th, 2011

Vacations and Retreats for People with HIV/AIDS

Summer is approaching and vacation plans are being made ” but have you ever considered a retreat or getaway with other people living with HIV/AIDS?

It might sound odd to seek out a vacation event just for people with HIV. For me, my status is only a part of who I am, and I’ve gotten pretty good at disclosing when I need to. But for many of us it’s tough getting past that hurdle. So joining a group of others living with HIV might be a fun solution if you’re looking to make friends with other people living with HIV and build your support network.

Whether roughing it in the great outdoors or getting pampered on a cruise ship, there’s a growing number of options. Here’s a look at just a few.

The HIV Cruise Retreat. Okay, we’ll start with kind of a fancy one, because I’ve actually participated in this one and I’ll go again this year.

Openly HIV+ travel agent Paul Stalbaum organizes this cruise each Fall to the Caribbean, and I had a blast last year ” over 200 people, mostly gay men, drop all the usual gay bar posing and really let themselves enjoy the fellowship and exotic locales. It’s not cheap ” cabins start in the $700 range for a full week cruise. Note: I’m not paid or compensated for plugging this cruise; I really did have a fantastic time last year.

foam_partyThe HIV Campground Project promotes social camping events at a variety of locations around the country, usually weekend retreats at campgrounds for gay men.

Their web site has information but I found their Facebook page (HIV Camp) to be more useful. Various retreats range in costs from FREE to $100 or so, and based on their web site (and the foam party pic shown), they’re looking to attract the party hearty crowd.

For women who can travel to the Oakland, California area, an organization known as WORLD (Woman Organized to Respond to Life Threatening Illness) attracts women from across the country to their retreats held twice a year.

WORLD agency picThe retreat itself will only cost a first-time attendee $40, and this is often offset through scholarships. Each 3-day retreat provides up to 40 women with a holistic experience that includes treatment education workshops, stress management, art activities, support groups, safer sex information, and discussions on topics including disclosure and stigma.

I must say I am intrigued by Colorado Manreach, a community building organization that hosts a series of retreats throughout the year in “all four corners” of Colorado for gay men.

ManreachThe pictures I’ve seen show some awesome scenery and what appears to be handsome, rugged men enjoying themselves. What a great getaway this would be! Both HIV positive and negative men are welcome, and registration is free (a donation of $50 per day is requested). The retreats are produced for men in rural areas of Colorado, but Manreach has welcomed guests from neighboring states as well.

But if you love Colorado, there’s more! The purpose of the HIV Retreat at Shadowcliff is to offer a proactive environment where poz folks can learn skills in a setting of friendship, safety and acceptance… by providing an affordable 3-day mountain getaway. Not to mention it’s in an awesome setting with a full agenda of educational, social, and other activities.

cliffsideShadowcliff (left) has two retreats coming this year, with costs ranging from $80-90 discounted fees to a full price up to $195. Who knew Colorado was the place for poz retreats, huh?

If anyone has participated in one of the retreats of vacations I’ve mentioned, you really must give me the scoop! I’ll look forward to your posted comments and feedback — and other ideas I may have neglected to mention.

For a good resource of ongoing retreats, travel tips, and up-to-date information on international travel restrictions for people with HIV/AIDS, check out HIV Travel Restrictions and Retreats, or browse their Facebook page.

poziamAnd let us not forget, there are a multitude of opportunities to make friends through online communities, especially if you’re unable to travel to one of these retreats. Besides the usual dating (and hook-up) web sites, my favorite social online network is POZIAM, a free site devoted to creating a non-sexual, social environment for men and women living with HIV. You’ll find chat rooms, pictures and video of events, and plenty of friendly and supportive online members.

As always, my friends, please be well.

Mark
————————————————————–

PLUS…

under coverDID YOU KNOW THAT SEMEN MAKES WOMEN… HAPPIER? A research study has found that female college students having sex without condoms are less depressed, as opposed to women having protected sex or none at all. Only 5 percent of the ejaculate is sperm. What’s left is seminal plasma, which is a rich concoction of chemicals, including many that have the potential to produce mood-altering effects derived from hormones, neurotransmitters, and endorphins.

Of course, a guy like me wonders if the same effects might be found among gay men, but I won’t hold my breath for that study to transpire. And before safer sex advocates freak out, let’s assume that the women in the study were in monogamous relationships. And hey — if you notice a gay friend with a certain spring in his step, maybe he and his partner are faithful, have been tested, and knew this secret before the research was published!

AIDS ProtestFLORIDA ADDS CRIMINAL INSULT TO INJURY FOR STRUGGLING ADAP CLIENTS. The ADAP crisis continues to go from bad to sickening in Florida. First, Florida is working right now to eliminate the ADAP wait list ” but not by funding the program. Instead, the State is trying to change the enrollment requirements to make it much tougher to qualify to participate. Wow. Florida gets rid of the wait list by getting rid of the clients and pretending they don’t exist.

It gets worse. A recent audit of the Florida ADAP program found that monies for the program have been incorrectly used to pay State employees who are not even connected to ADAP! How many medications have never made it to an AIDS patient because the money was used to pay a DMV employee?

If this situation angers you as it should, I encourage you to get involved by contacting your elected officials or joining the mailing list of the ADAP Advocacy Association. You MUST do this: sign a petition objecting to Florida changing the ADAP qualifications, through this electronic petition through The AIDS Institute.

Comments

comments

11 Responses to “Vacations and Retreats for People with HIV/AIDS”

  1. Harvey Carr Says:

    April 28th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Mark,

    I was informed by a district administrator with AHF Magic Johnson Clinics when I had labs yesterday that ADAP funds were also spent for ads on public transportation at rates as high as $1000 per sign! As he said, have you ever seen a sign saying, “Go sign-up for Food Stamps”? Such a waste of money!!! Now it is biting us in the butt!!!!! It is the responsibility of doctors and case managers to inform patients of the need to sign-up for ADAP, not waste money on ads on public transportation to add to the coffers of city governments.

  2. Theo Sean Haines Says:

    April 28th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I would like more information ….
    (Feel free to visit one of the links above, or let me know what info you would like. — Mark)

  3. Richard Says:

    April 28th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Mark, your posts have been absent for a while, glad you’re back online again, hope all is well, missed you.
    My elderly mother lives in The Sunshine State (me and 10 millions others) and this is one of the reasons I never moved there. It’s a sad day when Florida with all its wealth and resources (not to mention potential) falls behind some of the poorest states in the south. I will do what I can from here to help advocate for an end to this lunacy. You got a self serving crook for a governor and a boatload of other tea baggers in power, but odds were far worse back in the 80’s, this too shall pass.
    Xx Rich in Boston
    (Yes, I took an extra week off between postings. I can’t believe you noticed! You win a MFD t-shirt. Whenever I make such a thing. — Mark)

  4. Mary Glenn Says:

    April 28th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks, Mark for information about retreats that offer some down time and education at the same time. I made it to the public hearing on Monday thanks to AHF here in Jacksonville, and I was proud to see so many people willing to speak out for themselves.

  5. rod Says:

    April 29th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Thanks for the post Mark.. I wasn’t aware of the Women’s support. That is very helpful.. You always surprise me with your perspective and it always makes me smile..

    Rod

  6. Subversive Librarian Says:

    April 30th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Great resources, Mark. Something for just about everyone. And by the way, i really like the new format — the little snippets at the end. Very timely.

  7. JAM Says:

    May 3rd, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for another great installment, Mark…and I missed you, too! Great information…I just wish that the cruise wasn’t so expensive…I know so many +MSM who need this respite, but they live on $658/month. I feel for those in FL. I can’t imagine that they could take anyone off of ADAP who is currently on…wouldn’t they just not take anymore on who are in a higher %of FPL or whatever criteria they are changing? Also, is FL still paying for meds in the Medicare Part D donut hole…we don’t have that in my state. We may be facing a waitlist again soon, too. Hopefully it will get better soon…until then, I guess we work those pharmaceutical assistance plans and try to make the best of it. Thanks for all you do!

  8. Springtime and Play Time | Aging with HIV Says:

    May 5th, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    […] a list of vacations and retreats (some at low cost) for people living with HIV.  Follow the link to learn […]

  9. butch Says:

    June 3rd, 2011 at 12:27 am

    PLEASE HELP ME

    I have a week off from a 24/7 job sept 1-9 dates are a little flexible.

    I am hiv poz , 58, single and I NEED TO GET AWAY FROM EVERYDAY BS.

    can you help, plaese send me some ideas

    thanks , butch

    butchdma@att.net

  10. Cyndi Says:

    October 28th, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I was diagnosed with HIV in September 2009 and it quickly progressed to AIDS. Ive been on meds since March 2010 and my Tcell count just reached above 2000 last month. I had to quit my job, care and my place to live. I am currently on disability and living with a friend and very grateful for all the help, medical and personal support I have received throughout this time. Being on an extremely limited income, I haven’t been anywhere for nearly 2 years, except to the grocery store and around town with friends. I feel desperate to get out of town and relax, have a REAL vacation, but I cannot afford it. If there are any resources that may help me achieve this dream…please help me. Thanks to all who read this. Its good to know I am not alone on this journey!

  11. andy Says:

    January 18th, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Cyndi,

    i feel your story and might be able to help. email me

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