Wayne Starks
Wayne Starks

New York City
Diagnosed with HIV in 1986
Diagnosed with Hep C in 2000

The following is an excerpt from the Hep 2012 cover story:

For Wayne Starks, 51, a former New York City bus driver, overcoming addiction and staying sober have been central to his fight to be healthy while living with both HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV). “I wouldn’t have survived if I had kept using drugs and alcohol,” Starks says.

When he was diagnosed with HIV in 1986, though, his doctors didn’t think Starks, who has two children, would live long. That grim outlook made curbing his addictions harder.

Starks started HIV meds in the early 1990s but returned to using drugs and drink on and off for over a decade, grabbing the quick fix to temporarily forget his problems in times of tragedy. Then in 2000, when Starks learned he also had hep C, he committed to sobriety.

Today, as a board member for VOCAL-NY (formerly New York City AIDS Housing Network), a group advocating for the rights of HIV-positive people, Starks draws on his years of living on the streets and in HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) housing. “I know what it is to be homeless,” Starks says.

Where you live can influence your health for better or worse, and drug-free housing is definitely for better. After cycling through several drug-infested housing complexes—smoky hallways in one gave him asthma attacks—Starks has found permanent scatter-site housing that helps him put his health first, take his HIV meds on time, make doctor’s appointments and get enough rest.

Click here to read the complete story.