Pedro shared, "My spirit and my heart, not my income or HIV status, define who I am and how rich of a life I lead."
Born in Puerto Rico, Pedro has been in the United States since he was 12. He learned at the age of 33 that he was HIV positive. Ironically, both Pedro's mother and brother had been AIDS educators, and he had worked as an AIDS outreach worker. "I suddenly became very ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. I received an HIV test and they told me I had AIDS. That was June 1, 2006. I was ashamed. My shame wasn't that I had AIDS. My shame was that I had AIDS and didn't practice what I preached."
Pedro began receiving services at Trillium Health following his hospital discharge later the same month. Pedro recalls, "I knew the reputation of the clinic from my mother and others in the community. When I came to my first medical visit, my provider was very knowledgeable and I knew this was the place for me."
An active participant in the Trillium Health Consumer Council, Pedro serves on several other consumer boards and attends Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS meetings, working as a liaison between clients and staff. "If a client has a concern, they bring it to us," he explains. "For example, we have a lot of deaf clients and patients at Trillium Health, so I advocated for a system for communicating that didn't involve an interpreter. Now, that system is in place and is working well. It felt good to know that I made a difference."
Pedro takes great pride in his association with Trillium Health. "This organization is special because of the way everyone connects with each other. I see people with HIV on the streets, and they don't want to be acknowledged. But when they come here, everybody has their guard down because we're all here for the same purpose. There's no stigma here. When you come to Trillium Health, you may have your armor on. But you leave your armor at the door, everyone is like family here."