Tez Anderson, co-founder of Let’s KickAss.org is a long term AIDs survivor, but surprisingly, that brings with it a few problems that he didn’t plan on. He grew up in Atlanta Georgia and at 17 he left home. When he was 26 he landed in San Francisco for a relationship and it was a month later that he tested positive for HIV. He felt his life was over and it was with that in mind that he formed his future outlook. There was very little known about HIV at the time he was diagnosed and his doctors told him that he probably had about 2 years left of his life.
He recalled later “after two years of having HIV, they said, ‘Maybe two more years,'” here later in an interview.”And that happened five times. So that was 10 years going by – and I had sicknesses, I had illnesses, I had things go wrong with me. Yet I kept on surviving.”
The fact that he did keep on surviving stymied him and frankly, left him ill prepared for his life. For so long he had expected to die that he hadn’t saved money for his retirement and he hadn’t planned on any kind of a life and he hadn’t even finished college.
The expectation of death was always there. He remembers losing dozens of friends and over time, hundreds of them. For a long time, HIV and AIDs was a hot button topic. All of the sudden it wasn’t and people like Tez were suffering symptoms that were much like PTSD. The depression and increases in suicide and anxiety and problems sleeping were leading to people who simply were existing, not actually living.
Tez was watching a special on the war and realized that he was experiencing many of these symptoms for himself. He is quoted as saying. “I’ve been through a damn war that wasn’t a war, and there was not a name for it except HIV,” he says. “And we were all busy treating the medical, with support groups around dying, but the aspect of post-traumatic stress wasn’t even in the zeitgeist. No one was talking about that.” Tez coined the term Aids Survivor Syndrome and although most medical communities don’t recognize it yet, a few are realizing that what Anderson has to say about his condition and the hundreds of others like him who are members of his Let’s Kick ASS .org website, is that it is a real problem and requires real treatment and help.
Thanks in part to LetsKickASS and the machinations of Tez Anderson, the medical community has begun to see AIDS Survivor Syndrome for the problem that it really is and the program is giving help and hope to other survivors of AIDS as well. Gone are their deep depressions and in many cases, the monthly meetings and events give them something to look forward to and to work for. According to Anderson, “we’re envisioning a future we never dreamed of.” Learn more about Aids Survivor Syndrome and the non-profit Let’s Kick ASS at http://letskickass.org.
By Robbi Drake