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In 1991 Patricia McNeil Shelton and her late partner of 25 years, Keith Leach, both tested positive for HIV. They were given 2 years to live, prescribed a plethora of medications and expected to just sit home and die. With financial obligations a major concern, Pat and Keith immediately applied for government aid, including Social Security Disability, food stamps, rental assistance, and Medicaid. Together, the two set out on a journey to spread awareness and information, becoming volunteers for several AIDS support organizations and in 1999 were both trained as Peer Educators. However, in 2008, Keith went on home and Pat was alone on her journey. The loss of her partner was devastating and the easiest thing to do would have been to set home and die as everyone had expected. But doing what’s easy was never Pat and it may have been that attitude that got her in this predicament in the first place. One thing was for sure; it would be that attitude that taking Keith’s place beside Pat on the journey to Thriving…in Spite of HIV!
Patricia McNeil Shelton and her family continue to flourish! Pat has seen the three grown daughters through six degrees while continuing to educate herself and others. Pat is a Certified Acupuncturist, advocate, speaker and peer educator. Pat has been interviewed by a multitude of major news organizations including CBS TV Health Watch, the NY Times, LI Newsday and the Associate Press. From being the keynote speaker to kick off the 2003 AIDS Walk in Charlotte, NC to starring the documentary “Seen but Not Heard: AIDS & the Untold War Against Black Women”. Pat lives using her time and talents to support numerous organizations, events and initiatives. Pat’s accomplishments are too many to list! Currently, Pat works at Settlement Health, Inc. as Peer Educator.
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