Bill Leisman & Fred Steinke • Fort Wayne, Indiana
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"Everyone should know their status, especially if they have been sexually active.
No one is immune to HIV and do not think that the epidemic is over; it's not. HIV is still out there and there is no cure."
I was born on October 21, 1943 in Hammond, Indiana, and grew up in Gary, Indiana, where I attended the neighborhood Catholic elementary school. I graduated from high school near Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, and briefly attended college at St. Joseph Calumet Center in East Chicago, Indiana. I relocated to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the late sixties, and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1979 with my significant other. Following his death from AIDS, I moved back to Fort Wayne where I currently make my home.
I was diagnosed with HIV in 1982 and became a Person With AIDS (PWA) in 1992. I have had the exceptionally good fortune to remain free from opportunistic infection (OI) and have responded relatively well to treatment therapies. I began my AIDS related activities in 1995, participating in the annual AIDS Watch, which lobbies Indiana legislators in Washington, D.C.
I became a client of the AIDS Task Force in 1994 and served on its Board of Directors and managed the volunteer transportation activities for our clients in northeast Indiana. Serving others with HIV and AIDS has been the focus of my attention since 1995.
I am the District 3 Representative on the Indiana Statewide HIV Consumer Advisory Board (SWCAB) and was instrumental in developing the local Consumer Advisory Board (CAB). I also served as chairperson of the Indiana Comprehensive HIV Services Planning & Advisory Council (CHSPAC).
As a member of SWCAB since 1998, I have participated in the creation of the current Medical Services Program for HIV+ persons. I have also participated in planning AIDS housing programs, such as Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and client need assessment development in both services and housing. Membership in the CAB has given me the means to accomplish my goals, and I feel I am making a difference in the fight against AIDS while helping others living with HIV. I have met some really terrific people along the way.
Bill Leisman, Fort Wayne, Indiana
I believe that I was born gay, and that’s not something that parents, teachers, and clergy help a young person to understand. I was always attracted to men, and I lost all male influence in my life when my Dad and both Granddads died when I was two years old. In October 2000, I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, which was really no surprise. I was naïve in thinking that it would not happen to me. Wrong. No one is immune to this disease, and do not think that the epidemic is over; it is not. HIV is still out there and it is still a killer. There is no cure. Think before you have sex. If you do have sex, be safe—since just once can kill. Take it from someone who knows this for a fact.
Fred Steinke, Fort Wayne, Indiana
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- Facing HIV/AIDS in the Heartland 21 items