Monthly Musings from THP's Executive Director  


A powerful message from a Higher Ground client

I've been working in HIV/AIDS for over a decade now and even I have moments where I come across something that just slays me about this epidemic. That happened a few days ago when I read an article in the New York Times about the Recollectors, an online community of adult children of parents lost to AIDS.

Many in this group share what one member calls, "the legacy of secrecy and how it twists you." They have found healing in sharing their stories and experiences and want to preserve a history that many of them have waited a long time to talk about. 

Addison Ore, Executive Director
This is the quote from one of the members that went right through me: "One of the things that brings the Recollectors together is how we suffered from the closet more than we suffered from the disease."

I know that there are many THP clients who feel that way today because I've heard their stories - story after story about the pain of stigma and the isolation of silence. There is no magic "cocktail" for these side effects of HIV/AIDS.

And that's just one more reason why Triad Health Project's upcoming 26th Annual Dining for Friends is so important. This is the time each year that our community comes together to shine the warm light of compassion on people living with HIV/AIDS right here in Guilford County.

There will be over 50 parties hosted throughout the Triad. Some will be huge affairs for hundreds of people, others will be intimate gatherings of friends and neighbors but they will all share a common theme - hope.

And as the legendary LGBT activist Harvey Milk said time and time again, "Hope is never silent."

Please help us turn up the volume on hope on Saturday, May 16th.

With deep gratitude,

Dining for Friends Poster is Here!


ANYONE can host a Dining for Friends event and you can do WHATEVER YOU LOVE DOING!  Invite your friends to DO WHAT YOU LOVE and raise funds and awareness for Triad Health Project and HIV/AIDS in our community. You can choose the date and time that works best for you and your friends!


All hosts and guests are invited to join in a community celebration at the Dessert Finale on May 16th at the Terrace at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. We'll feature the best desserts in town, including our Signature Dessert Sponsor Cheesecakes by Alex, and dancing the night away with the band Sol Fusion!


Mark's Mentionings
Mark Cassity, Director of Higher Ground
We had a remarkable and unexpected visit last month by three guests from Singapore who were visiting our good friend Dr. Hatcher. Our visitors run a small clinic, pharmacy and gathering space for people living with HIV and AIDS and they spoke eloquently and compassionately about various  obstacles - how people with HIV were denied jobs, how people were afraid to be seen entering that wing of the clinic even though it housed several other specialty areas, how  people were afraid to even come to a space of welcoming community for fear of societal retribution of a dozen sorts, how despair or addiction or mental-health issues kept people isolated, unable to find their way to the clinic, much less into what we might call mainstream life. We spoke of programming and we spoke of love. Then we spoke more about love. These were very, very beautiful people.

The stories they shared are our stories, of people circling the hospital until the coast is clear, of passing Higher Ground on foot across the street before dashing inside, of ripping labels off their medications the moment they pick them up; the etceteras are forever. It's distressing and mind-numbing to realize how such stigma runs the whole world around but for the life of me this sacred visit left me amazed and energized and grateful to know that just as the stigma, injustice and oppression circles the globe, a kinship of hearts also stands. The former is born of fear and the latter is born of love. And historically, miraculously, beyond the  unspeakable suffering, love always wins. 
Cooking with Ninevah

Brussels sprouts are "misunderstood".  Perhaps many of you have been served Brussels sprouts that have been overcooked, reducing them to a "green mush" with no distinguishable flavor.  But these little baby cabbages can be sautéed or roasted...a simple method which releases an unimaginable sweetness and yields a finished product that is almost crunchy in its firmness.  I challenge you to try them...but be warned...this recipe might change your mind about Brussels sprouts forever!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates

15 ounces of Brussels sprouts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 slices bacon
2 pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Wash the Brussels sprouts and remove the outer leaves. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the Brussels sprouts and turn gently to coat the sprouts with the oil mixture.
Brown the bacon slices in a large nonstick skillet until browned. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.
Turn the Brussels sprouts and marinade into a large nonstick skillet and sauté over medium heat for approximately 8 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Reduce heat and gently stir in the chopped bacon and chopped dates, mixing with the sautéed Brussels sprouts.
Whisk together the honey and apple cider vinegar and add to the Brussels sprouts, bacon and dates, stirring to mix.
Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Many thanks to our friend, Ninevah Murray, for her recipe. For more recipes and information on her cooking classes, go to 

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Walk Your Talk
In The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is Be Impeccable with Your Word. Words have power. They have a magical quality of creating new ideas, setting goals, new standards, and showing ourselves and others how accountable we are. Words also have the power to wound, destroy confidence, and destroy trust and accountability.

Kevin Varner, Director of Prevention and Education
As a leader, a partner, a friend, and as a person living with HIV, I am continually learning the power of words. I set an example to my co-workers by agreeing to show up, set an example of accountability, be an example for good work ethics, and be an example to myself, loved ones, and the larger community by living a healthy, positive, and affirming life with HIV. When it goes well, I don't think about being impeccable with my word. When it goes poorly, I tend to focus on accountability and my words with a microscope.

How could I be an advocate for someone newly diagnosed with HIV, encouraging that person to meditate, seek support from friends, advocate for their healthcare, take medication, and get to a level of viral suppression, if I'm not doing it? 

At work, how can I encourage open communication, accountability with work schedules, keeping accurate notes, staying on top of my employees' calendars, and encouraging others to be organized, if I am not doing it?

My father once told me something. Even then, it didn't make much sense, but the power of his words stick with me to this day. He said, once while smoking in the car, "Son, don't ever start smoking. If I ever catch you smoking, I will wear your butt out!" I thought about it for a moment, and very timidly responded, "But dad, you smoke." He looked at me as he exhaled a cloud of smoke and said, "Do as I say, not as I do". That didn't sit well with me at the age of eight, and it doesn't sit well with me at the age of 44.
I struggle with smoking to this day. Attempts to quit, cutting back, and finally quitting several times have brought me to the conclusion that if I'm going to be impeccable with my word-and put my health first-I need to stay smoke free, and do it for no one else but me. 

I like the phrase "Walk Your Talk". As a leader, as an HIV positive man, and someone who practices mindfulness and meditation, the power of my word to help, to heal, to encourage, to build motivation, and to show empathy and compassion must outweigh the word's ability to shame, blame, criticize, judge, and destroy. I must walk my talk.

Look closer at the words we choose, and at our accountability. Who is counting on you? Who notices your actions? What power do your words have to create, or to destroy the precious world around you? 

By taking my meds, working out, being on time, setting goals and reaching them, fostering open communication, showing compassion, and forgiving myself and others when we all fall short and don't quite hit the mark, I'm doing my best. 

"Always do your best" is the 4th of The Four Agreements. I'll discuss that more in a future post.


Crafted's Dining for Friends
Our friends at Crafted - the Art of the Taco are opening a new restaurant and making their opening night a Dining for Friends event for THP! Stay tuned on THP's Facebook and Crafted's Facebook as the exciting details are revealed!

Save the Dates for these DFF Parties All are Welcome!


Go to  and for more information. 
Stonewall Kickball's Food Drive for THP
A huge thank you to all who came out and supported Stonewall Kickball's THP Food Drive at the Q Lounge on Friday! We received 311 lbs of food this morning! 
We are feeling the love - thank you!

Julie McKnight, Sammy Ward and Megan Parker with the donated food at the Q Lounge.
Greensboro 20 of 25 Cities
We were dismayed when we read that Greensboro is #20 of the top 25 cities in the country  with the highest rate of new HIV infections, but were were pleased that this link was shared 120 times from our Facebook page!
Knowledge is power.

Greensboro is the 75th largest city in the country yet Greensboro/High Point is number 20 out of the 25 U.S. Cities With the Highest Rates of HIV Infection. Are your surprised by this data?


                                                               Greensboro                                                                          High Point

                                                         801 Summit Avenue                                                         620 English Road

                                                            P.O. Box 5716                                                                     P.O. Box 616

                                                    Greensboro, NC 27435                                                     High Point, NC 27262

                                                           (336) 275-1654                                                                (336) 884-4116