Book Review of A Positive Life

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Shane Stanford’s life is a fascinating one.  Of interest is not just his experiences and reactions of living with HIV and Hep C after being diagnosed at the age of 16.  Shane’s upbringing, and in particular, the relationship he shared with his grandfather which largely helped shape his outlook on life was especially touching to read.  Shane’s story neither starts nor stops though with the diagnosis of a condition that at that time was thought to be a death sentence.  Shane’s courage and positive attitude ensured that his story did not end in that doctor’s office.

What I admire most about Shane are his choices.  There were many crossroads in his life when giving up would have been the easiest choice, when having a pity party would have been justifiable, and yet, he chose hope, love, and faith.  It was largely his faith that would sustain him through some of the more challenging times that were to come.  

A diagnosis of HIV in the 1980s was very different than one today.  At that time, public fear and judgement was at an all time high and there were not people living with HIV, only people dying of AIDS.  Shane takes us carefully through that time in history and relives what it was like to be facing HIV during that tumultuous time.

In his memoir, Shane speaks openly about the most personal aspects of his life and shares in a way that engages the reader’s heart as well as mind.  His honesty about his marriage is admirable.  HIV does not define this man and is not the only struggle he has lived through.  His faith and love of God with all that has happened in his life are inspirational.

Shane Stanford spoke at the Global AIDS Summit in 2006 and his concise and honest speech is also included in the book.

His wife, Pokey Stanford, provides a chapter near the end and I found it very intimate to hear from her after all I read about her on previous pages.  I appreciate her willingness to open up the most personal details of her life in order to help others.

At the very end of the book, there is a study and reflection guide entitled “9 Lessons From a Positive Life” and I found these especially helpful.

Overall, the lessons that Shane has learned from living with HIV are lessons that can help us all to live better lives in whatever trials we face.  This book is thoughtful, honest, and well written and reading Shane’s account may change the way you look at the face of HIV/AIDS.

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