At La Clínica del Pueblo, I learned that being HIV-positive did not have to stop me from pursuing my dreams. My name is Miguel Aguero. I am a patient and former board member at La Clínica del Pueblo. La Clínica works miracles every day. They saved my life.
When I first came to the United States, I felt overwhelmingly afraid and anxious. I was HIV-positive, had left all of my family behind, and was struggling to adjust to life in an unfamiliar country. In 1999, at 34, I came to the U.S. to seek political asylum. My first months were really hard. I was lonely and afraid. I suffered a lot.
One day I was walking down the street when I saw an advertisement in a Latino newspaper. The ad mentioned La Clínica's HIV program and said that it was open to anyone, regardless of his/her immigration status. So I called. La Clínica at that time was in an older building. They were spread out between the first and third floors with a daycare center in the middle. There were times when there was no air conditioning or heat. When it rained, there was water leaking in the building.
What amazed me about La Clínica was the commitment of the staff to their work. They make you feel welcome and part of a family. That was much more important than a spectacular building. One of the first things they asked me was if I had a place to live and if I had enough to eat. Within two weeks I was enrolled in an AIDS drug assistance program.
At La Clínica del Pueblo I felt safe. I felt protected. La Clínica has magic. Every time I walked in there, my worries would go away. I wouldn't feel anxious. La Clínica del Pueblo understands Latino patients. They take cultural factors into consideration. The doctor doesn't see you for only five minutes. They spend time with you. They ask you a lot of questions. They provide a comprehensive approach to meet your needs. Coming to La Clínica changed my life. I received medical care, emotional support, and medicine. La Clínica restored my hope and dignity.