A testament to the resilience of the human spirit

I will never forget that fateful day 15 years ago when I was diagnosed with HIV. There was this deep shame that came with it. How could I let this happen, I wondered. How could I tell my family? I was deeply afraid of how others would react.   

But you needn’t worry. My story isn’t one of despair. It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of community, and the transformative impact of organizations like PRC, and supporters like you – thank you – that helped me along the way.  

When I was growing up in the 80s, the media portrayed HIV as a death sentence. At that time, it was. Medical advancements since then have made it so individuals with HIV can live a long vivacious life with treatment. However, the stigma has become so deeply ingrained that newly diagnosed people frequently experience significant mental health challenges, often a result of stigma and shame. That was certainly true for me.  

That shame led me to substance abuse, which I kept very private, again because of shame and because I believed I should have known better. It was an ER visit and the realization I didn’t want to let those closest to me down, that was the pivotal turning point.   

I knew I couldn’t face the journey alone, so I mustered the courage to reach out to a friend in recovery for help. I took time off of work, found counseling, and began the work of healing. So many people showed up for me. I also must recognize the privilege I experienced as a white cisgender male with a family support system in the Bay Area, something most of PRC’s clients do not have. Through these supports, I found a workplace that was inclusive and saw my ability to transcend difficult life experiences as an asset. I learned over time that you don’t graduate from self-growth.  

These experiences inspired me to want to help others. It’s so powerful to give back because you never know when it might actually save someone’s life.  

As I rebuilt my life and a new career in HR to create the same inclusive workplaces that helped me so much, I searched for additional ways to give back. I volunteered. But I wanted to more actively participate in bringing about positive change in San Francisco, especially for those with struggles similar to mine. So earlier this year, I joined PRC’s Board of Directors.    

PRC’s work resonates with me on a profound level. I have been so impressed by their continuum of services that meet people where they are:  

  • Low-barrier Hummingbird respite centers that present a safe space for people coming right off the street and linkage to additional care;  
  • Emergency financial assistance to preserve housing and medical care;  
  • Legal advocacy to secure and retain stable income and health insurance;  
  • 90-day residential treatment for mental illness and substance use;   
  • Supportive housing with individualized case management; 
  • Workforce development to get back to work from a disability; and,   
  • And by promoting and engaging in policy and advocacy to propel initiatives aimed at achieving health equity and fostering social justice.   

Together these programs lift up more than 5,000 individuals each year to a place of greater stability and more positive health and economic outcomes.  

We can’t do this work alone, however. We need donor support. As we near the end of the year, I ask that everyone reading this please consider making a year-end contribution today.

Your donation will:  

  • Provide lifesaving programs for those living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and substance use disorder;  
  • Offer integrated legal, social, and health services that address the broad range of social risk factors that impact wellness and limit potential; and, 
  • Help people affected by these challenges better realize opportunities and live healthier, happier lives.  

I’m also happy to announce a generous $10,000 match. With your help, we can raise $15,000 by December 31st, doubling the impact of your donation. 

Please give generously today by going to prcsf.org/donate, or consider giving via your donor-advised fund if you have one to help PRC to change lives like mine for the better. Thank you for your consideration.  



  Michael Kyle  

PRC Board Member