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“I was getting ready to go to prison when I found out that I had it. I’d sit in my cell, and hey, I cried, because I thought my life was over.”

Transcript for Curtis: The Road From Here video

The Story

Curtis remembers the day vividly: September 28, 2006, when he was told that he had HIV. The diagnosis came shortly before he entered prison. He felt scared and overwhelmed. And as his time for release from prison approached, Curtis again had feelings of unrest and fear at what might await him on the outside: life without a home or a job, the struggle to stay drug and alcohol free, and the continuing need for health care for a lifelong—and life-threatening—disease.

HRSA’s Response

Like Curtis, 1 in 4 people with HIV have been in a correctional setting at one time or another.1 For ex-offenders as a whole, the challenges of re-entry into society can be enormous. For ex-offenders living with HIV, those challenges are compounded many times over.

Thankfully, in Curtis’s case, he did not fall through the cracks but instead found support from organizations in his community. Before Curtis left prison, a fellow inmate told him about It Takes a Village (ITAV), a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grantee funded by Part A and the Minority AIDS Initiative. ITAV is dedicated to reducing health and social disparities among people of color in the Denver metropolitan area. For Curtis, ITAV offered support services and referrals as well as compassion and encouragement to cope with the trials of reentry.

Curtis receives a variety of other assistance as well under the coordinating umbrella of the Part A Denver Mayor’s Office of HIV Resources. The office and its dedicated staff exemplify the commitment of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grantees to offer comprehensive care through partnerships with diverse providers. Curtis now receives primary care, for example, from the Denver Health Medical Center, and he has access to case management and to food and emergency housing assistance through the Colorado AIDS Project—all of which have allowed him to begin his life anew.