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Sep 6, 2002

Homeless AIDS patient seeks help

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Belize has been battling the AIDS epidemic for nearly two decades, but even though there is a new patient diagnosed almost every day, AIDS in Belize is still a relatively faceless phenomenon. Slowly, however, that anonymity is changing. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

You may have seen him around the city or cayes over the years… sometimes gainfully employed, other times looking for a handout. But what you may not know about thirty-five year old Floyd Leslie is that today he is homeless. Every day, Leslie climbs over the railing of the Bel-China Bridge and then onto a catwalk to reach his current address near the river. This has been Leslie’s home for the past three months. It’s a sad way for anyone to live, but Leslie’s misfortune is compounded by his medical condition. In 1999, Leslie received the devastating news that he was HIV positive.

Floyd Leslie, AIDS Patient

“Disbelief, not wanting to accept what was just said to me. And I asked to do the test again because I just didn’t want to believe what was being said. And after doing the second test and that came back positive, I still walked away from Medical Associates in disbelief and thinking that I’m in a nightmare and trying to wake up out of this nightmare cause I just couldn’t believe what was happening to me.”

Leslie says not only was he having a difficult time accepting the fact that he had HIV, but those who were closest to him, started to stay away.

Floyd Leslie

“I was discriminated and I was reject. Plus, I was evicted as well. People need to understand that not because a person has HIV/AIDS means that they are suppose to be abandoned. They still have feelings and it’s only then that they need people more than ever.”

Jacqueline Woods

“What about your family?”

Floyd Leslie

“Most of them have rejected me. The ones that I can go around, like my grandaunt, her husband doesn’t want me around because he has this fear, and so I have to keep away. And I only have one other cousin that will sit down and talk to me, but besides that everyone else has rejected me.”

Since he was diagnosed three years ago, Leslie has not received and treatment for the disease. One person who has come to his aid is Antonette Castillo-Young. She is the founder and Director of J and A Aids Foundation and the House of Hope in Orange Walk Town.

Antonette Castillo-Young, Founder, House of Hope

“He called me collect at 12 o’clock midnight a couple nights ago for the first time, and I didn’t know him. And just giving him time and listening to his story, I felt the need of meeting him personally and see what we can do to make a difference in his life, and that’s how I feel.”

Castillo-Young, who lost a brother to the disease, says she knows how challenging it can be for persons with HIV and AIDS to try and live a normal life as possible. Therefore she has committed her life to help victims, like Leslie.

Antonette Castillo-Young

“Once you tested HIV positive and have full blown AIDS, your family, I mean we need to educate them. And what he is experiencing right now is total rejection from families, from friends and he is now homeless, he has nowhere to go and this is what hurts, because it’s a young man who is educated. He is very smart and at this time of life this is when he needs family most, and he doesn’t have anyone around.”

This morning, following our interview, Castillo accompanied Leslie to Belize Medical Associates where he was given another test. Once again, it came back positive. It’s not certain how Leslie contracted the disease. He admits he was a drug addict and did many other things that could have made him ill. Today, Leslie says he is a changed man and committed to saving people’s lives by sharing his experience and educating youths about HIV and AIDS.

Floyd Leslie

“I want back my life from the way people have been treating me. I want to be able to work again. I want to be able to live again and I still want to do what God has called me to do, and that’s to share with people about this thing that’s endangering our young people.”

Jacqueline Woods

“What now will happen to Floyd Leslie?

Antonette Castillo-Young

“I am totally looking at House of Hope for Floyd. I have done an assessment on him and I am totally looking for Floyd to be in House of Hope. Right now I do not have a home for House of Hope because the House of Hope that I had was a wooden house and it was needed, so the owner took it away from us. But I am looking for another House of Hope and within in the next week or so we can get Floyd in there and Floyd can have a life, a hope.”

Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

Castillo-Young says she is optimistic that by tomorrow a House of Hope would have been located for Floyd Leslie. In the meantime she will work to put Leslie on a medical programme to help him deal with the effects of the disease.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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