Early this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a young man named Fred Griffin Jr. online. He was one of my twitter followers who always spoke to me. I realized what a great guy he was when we connected with one another over the phone. Business owner, motivational speaker, professional model and mentor are what you would find on his resume. But I learned more so about a man after God’s heart; a brother in Christ who was all about making a difference in others’ live through Christ. But why? What could steer Fred to be a light to the world? Well…
He told me of an empowering story of freedom; a phenomenal unforgettable one that cannot go unnoticed. The Lord has saved Fred in such a remarkable way. With his permission, I have decided to share how he has been redeemed.
Fred tested for HIV, an incurable disease, but proclaimed freedom in Christ and was set free!
Check out our interview.
Hey Fred. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to speak to you, friend. How was life for you growing up?
Fred: I was raised in a single family household with two sisters and one brother. It was a perfectly normal family environment.
Did you experience any sexual tension as a child or teenager?
Fred: Yes. I remember like it was yesterday. At the age of four, I was molested by a family friend in the neighborhood. He seemed harmless at first. But he sought opportunities to lure my brother and me to his house. There was a time where he became able to trap us and mistreat us. Fortunately my brother fled but I was sexually abused. He became a monster to me, so that’s what I called him: a monster. At the age of 10, he tried to rape me again. Somehow, my family caught him and he was put in jail for about 15 years. The monster was charged with two accounts of child molestation, and after that my family started asking questions.
I remember thinking, “This is who I am.” It was normal for me to be touched at a young age. It left a scar and became my identity, and sexual desire for men started arising after this. I couldn’t even have sleepovers with my best friends because I wanted to sleep with them. I lost my childhood and teenage years since I was so focused on having sex. My father was not in the picture because of a disability, so
I was not raised to be a gentleman by a man. Women in my family showed me how to be a man, but ironically I started acting like them.
When did you learn that you might have HIV? What events led up to that?
Fred: When I got older, I was free to do as I please. Life of the party, I went to clubs, partied, had sex with men and didn’t really find myself concerned with my health. I was having too much fun carousing and celebrating myself. Until one day a family member came by my house to check on me. He told me I looked sick as if I had the flu.
As early as 2-4 weeks after exposure to HIV (but up to 3 months later), people can experience an acute illness, often described as “the worst flu ever.” This is called acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), or primary HIV infection, and it’s the body’s natural response to HIV infection. During primary HIV infection, there are higher levels of virus circulating in the blood, which means that people can more easily transmit the virus to others.- AIDS.gov
Fred: Family urged me to see the doctor because my condition just got worse and worse. Within a matter of three days, I visited the doctor and they ran some tests. I told the doctor about my reckless lifestyle. I thought to myself, “I’ve been tested for HIV 3 or four months prior to this so I should be fine.”
Informed to go home and wait on a call from the doctors, I left. When I returned the same thing happened. The doctors ran some tests; but this time they told me what they found. “The good news is you are going to live, Fred. But we believe you have contracted HIV and your immune system is weak. We will have to do some more tests.”
While the virus itself can sometimes cause people to feel sick, most of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV disease come from the opportunistic infections that attack a damaged immune system. It is important to remember that some symptoms of HIV infection are similar to symptoms of many other common illnesses, such as the flu, or respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.- AIDS.gov
Fred: Something was just not right. The doctors ran more tests, gave me antibiotics and told me to just call if I got sick again. I thought that was strange. Ignorantly, I went back to having sex; doing very perverted things with men. And all of a sudden, I started having stomach problems and there appeared bumps on my lower body. Every time I went to the restroom I bled, but I figured it was a reaction from the testing, and I was on antibiotics. I rushed myself to the ER. But that didn’t stop my wild behavior. Days later, I went clubbing and was ill yet again. Back at the doctor’s office, I was told many of my symptoms were a result of contacting another person’s body fluids.
During sexual contact: When you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex with a partner, you will usually have contact with your partner’s body fluids. If your partner has HIV, those body fluids can deliver the virus into your bloodstream through microscopic breaks or rips in the delicate linings of your vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth. Rips in these areas are very common and mostly unnoticeable. HIV can also enter through open sores, like those caused by herpes or syphilis, if infected body fluids get in them. – AIDS.gov
Fred: Then I remembered a phone call I received prior to this doctor visit. The last person I knew I just had sex with passed away suddenly from HIV. From there, my heart sank. Life was not worth living because I had HIV. I lost hope. Physically drained I could not deal with sickness and tests by myself anymore. I was very upset, tired and I wanted to die.
So I drew closer to God. I contacted my pastor and he helped me bring myself to repentance and faith. He and my church family prayed with and for me. Healing and victory was claimed over my life! I believed that Jesus is alive and by His stripes I am healed. Not only were my sins taken care of, but I trusted that He would relieve me of all sickness and disease. Despite what the physicians told me, I didn’t claim the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. God changed me, and I gave up living my lifestyle of drinking, partying and having sex with guys.
What happened when you went back to the doctor?
Fred: I was still taking the medications given as directed when I returned to the hospital. Would you believe the same doctor who said, “We believe you have contracted HIV,” explained I was now undetected? The HIV was not there. He couldn’t believe it! I had minor cases of sinuses, allergies and symptoms but there were no viral findings anymore. Only the grace of God! I strongly believe the HIV was present but God did a miracle and erased it. All the signs were there.
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Matthew 8:1-3
Fred: I was given more meds to see if something would happen just in case. “Once you take this medication, Fred, you can’t stop taking it.” Something told me that was the Devil was playing with my mind. I actually stopped taking the medicine given to me.
Did you know anything about the disease before being tested for it?
Fred: I didn’t know anything about it, Dominique. I was not educated on it, but after my experience and healing I have taken time to understand and learn about HIV and AIDS.
What is the difference between HIV- and HIV+? How is it different from AIDS?
Fred: HIV Negative is means you do not have HIV. HIV Positive is means you have it, but additional tests need to be performed in order to confirm the results of testing. Also there are two different categories: HIV 1 and HIV 2. You can visit cdc.gov/hiv/ or aids.gov for information on that.
Thank you. There are many types of HIV medications available, and if I am correct the medicine has to work for the individual’s own system, right?
Fred: Yes. If your immune system is weak it will reject the medication.
Do HIV patients have to take their medicine all day? I’ve heard that with HIV meds, you have to take your meds every day without fail or your system becomes immune to them and you have to move on to a new set of meds.
Fred: Yes you do. But I do not have to take any meds anymore because I am healed. I do however take multiples physicals and checkups to be sure of my status and the healthy state of my body.
Do you still suffer with HIV symptoms like night sweats, constant sleeping, hallucinations, or depression?
Fred: Not at all. I do not suffer from any symptoms anymore.
Fred: What impact has HIV played concerning your relationships and love life? Has your family disowned you?
Fred: It does become difficult when I think of the “what ifs” and my mind goes back to my past life and the HIV testing, but I do not let doubt hinder my opportunities to grow in love. My family received me well after confronting me about my reputation of sex.
How do people treat you as someone who was delivered from HIV?
Fred: Quite well, but I don’t think everyone understands who I am now.
How does HIV affect your faith?
Fred: Jesus is still alive and He lives in me. It brought me closer to God and more involved in church. God used suffering to pull me to place of worship and adoration for Him.
Some people believe if you have an HIV or an STD, your life is over. Is HIV a death sentence?
Fred: It is absolutely not a death certificate. It’s a struggle in life and those who have it must make a decision: think positive or negative. If you think about awful things you will be unhappy with life. But if you believe by His stripes you are healed, you will be fine as I am. Your words make your world and your atmosphere. If you have nothing else, always pray to God that you have your mind. Without your mind you are lost.
Fred, physicians say that your will to live and your support system are crucial in fighting HIV. Though you do not have it, you are still fighting thoughts and lies. What makes you want to live every day? Do you have supporters?
Fred: I know that God has destiny for me and that makes me want to live; there is more to this life than suffering. I am giving back to the kingdom for His glory. I love to encourage and help others. Over the past few years I have been asked to speak out on HIV at seminars, and that has brought me supporters. I love sharing my story and using the voice I have been given.
Amen to that! Should those with HIV seek God as you have done?
Fred: Yes. The mind can control your situation. If you have HIV and are living reckless, turn away from it. There is hope for you and there is something to look forward besides what you see and feel.
How do you act out your faith, Fred? What measures do you take in helping others know more about this disease?
Fred: I exercise and eat healthy now. I speak and declare healing over my body every night, and I pray not to turn back to my wicked ways. As of now, I work with students who have HIV, and assist them with all their issues. I support them under HIPAA. Also, I’m a group home provider for people with developmental disabilities, changing their lives along the way. My foundation is called Touching Hearts Group Home and our website is www.thgh.weebly.com.
HIPAA ((Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). has proven to be very effective in preventing discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS by preventing others from knowing their HIV status. – AIDS.gov
What is the most important thing you have learned in dealing with HIV? What advice do you have for those who know they are HIV positive?
Fred: Just be you. That means do not let HIV change your situation or circumstance. I could have easily taken what the doctors told me and believed it. But I chose not to claim that virus over me. I was brought back to reality and by His grace I was healed. Sensitive to the Holy Spirit, I made that decision to do away with my medication because I knew I didn’t have a trace of HIV anymore. I do not encourage HIV patients to stop taking their prescribed drugs. If you currently have the sickness, please do as the doctors say, take your meds and seek spiritual help from a bible-preaching church. Be responsible, and listen to God’s voice. It is only by the Spirit of Christ that I have been healed, not by my own work. If you want to be free, you must go to the Cross and recognize your need for Jesus Christ.
Amazing encouragement, Fred, I appreciate your honesty. Your story is so inspiring to me, and I know you have touched the hem of His garment. Faith has made you well, brother!
Fred: To God be the glory! I cannot be silent or go through life just wishing. I must help others along the way.
If someone had additional questions for you, how can you be reached?
Fred: I can be reached at email@example.com for any comments, questions or concerns. I am also available for any seminars and motivational speaking. You can talk to me without being judged. I pray this interview and us speaking further will make you look at life differently, not allowing your thoughts control your decision to live. Be blessed.
A truthful witness will save lives. Proverbs 14:25
Learn more about Fred Griffin Jr.