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An Upcoming Retreat for People Who are HIV+ and in Recovery

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Gay Life, Living with HIV/AIDS, Meth and Recovery, My Fabulous Disease, News, Prevention and Policy | 0 comments

Skip Sams, chair of the 2024 SoberPoz Retreat

A retreat being held this summer, known as SoberPoz, will welcome anyone living with HIV who identifies as participating in a program of recovery of some kind. This kind of safe space is terribly important and I want to explain why – and then encourage you to share this retreat with anyone who might find it helpful.

The disease most likely to kill me is not HIV/AIDS. It is the disease of drug addiction, for which I have been in recovery for more than twenty years.

Dealing with my addiction has been an uneven path, as it is for most folks who attempt to stop their dependence on drugs and alcohol. And, because drugs and alcohol tend to lower inhibitions – crystal meth, in particular, is widely known for propelling drug-fueled sexual escapism – the stories of people in recovery often include some facet of HIV transmission.

Many people in recovery are living with HIV as a direct result of their addiction. Many others, like myself, who were HIV positive before addictive behavior, must contend with the possibility of having put our sex partners at risk while under the influence. Whatever the scenario, HIV is often inextricably bound to our stories as people in recovery.

And yet, HIV is sometimes a topic not particularly welcome in recovery settings – it can be considered an “outside problem” – and the stigma of HIV makes it tough to be open about how HIV has had an impact on our addiction or sobriety. That’s what makes the SoberPoz retreat so unique and helpful.

LaSalle Retreat Center, site of the SoberPoz Retreat, in Plano, IL

The SoberPoz retreat is being held at the LaSalle Retreat Center in Plano, IL, on July 18-21, 2024. Skip Sams of Chicago is the event chairperson.

“At this retreat, we get the kind of safety that allows our whole stories to come through,” Skip told me. He knows from experience, having attended the retreat as an attendee and as a speaker.

The theme this year is “Positively Relevant.” Skip explained to me why the theme has such important meaning to him.

“When talking to people around the country, we heard some folks questioning why this retreat was needed or even relevant,” Skip told me. “Hearing that pissed me off at first.” Skip realized that many folks in recovery don’t realize people are struggling with the dual challenges of recovery and living with HIV. This year’s theme is meant to educate the general recovery community about why this retreat is needed — and attract attendees who could use this kind of support. That includes efforts to be more inclusive.  “It’s not just about us as white gay men,” Skip added, pointing out that the demographics of the retreat are slowly changing. “I hope that’s where we go in the future,” Skip said.

The cost of the SoberPoz is $375, and a limited number of scholarships are available that lower the cost by $100, to $275. Anyone who would like to contribute to the scholarship fund can do that here.

The retreat is a 4-day / 3-night event with a variety of planned activities developed to strengthen the sense of community and support through workshops, speakers, 12-step meetings, fellowship, discussion groups, campfires, and leisure time.

Each attendee has own room with a sink with shared restrooms and showers on each floor. Bed linens and a towel will be provided. The LaSalle Manor staff will prepare three hot meals Friday and Saturday and a continental breakfast Sunday morning. The committee will host a pizza night on Thursday evening. There’s also a pool, hiking, evening campfires, and kickball. Talk about getting back in touch with your inner child – but with nothing but love and support around you!

For more information, visit the SoberPoz web site or email the organizers at soberpoz@gmail.com.



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