In a high performance show of true grit and conquering the odds, long term HIV and Hep C survivor, Vaughn Ripley is currently leading the field in a national health and fitness competition. He is number one right now in a contest in which the widely read Men’s Health Magazine and designer Kenneth Cole are “searching for "The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy" to appear on the cover of the November issue. This guy is physically fit, confident, stylish, career driven and a pillar of his community.” With a circulation of 1.8 million in the United states alone, the cover of Men’s Health strikes us an unparalleled opportunity to take a bite out of the HIV stigma that is still pervasive everywhere, not least in the field of sports.
Which is why we suggest you take the time to vote for Vaughn. You can view the leaderboard – last time we looked he was winning by a sizeable margin - and cast your vote here.
Also you can learn more about the remarkable Vaughn Ripley in my two-year old PositiveLite.com interview here.
In his bio for the competition webpage Ripley describes himself thus "I stay fit with weight lifting (Powerlifting and HIT), biking (road and MTB), and running. I race in six or more events each year. It's important because I'm a hemophiliac, and fitness keeps me injury free and prevents bleeds. I am one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the world. I believe that my health is the main reason for living this long. I want to live to see and enjoy my grand kids. I like being strong and fit enough to do anything. I love looking and feeling healthy. It is important to inspire and motivate others."
An advocate for hemophilia as well as HIV and Hepatitis C, Fox News reported “Ripley entered the contest and without much thought, he posted it on his Facebook page. “I went back to the leaderboard and I was in first place the next day,” he said. “I was in first place by like 400 votes. I was like, ‘What?’”
Now, he's hoping he can harness all that enthusiasm and help raise awareness about hemophilia, HIV/AIDS and also about the safety of the blood supply. “I'm the older brother to this young generation of hemophiliac kids and I'm here to protect them,” said Ripley. His message to them: “We can be strong. We can be healthy. We can be fit and we can be just like everybody else.”
PositiveLite.com asked Ripley earlier about people like himself who contracted HIV through blood transfusions and that they are sometimes referred to as the “innocent victims” of the epidemic. Said Ripley “It sounds appalling, but I have said that before. I suppose the easiest excuse for using that statement is simply lack of a better description and ignorance.”
Ripley continued ”Many moons ago I discovered some very interesting things. Mostly I found that I could do more than simply take medicine to keep my body healthy. I combined taking my medication (and never missing a single dose ... EVER), weight lifting, healthy eating, positive thinking, meditation, fitness (biking, running, and swimming), and surrounding myself with supportive friends and family among other things. On top of that I do daily rituals like rubbing my gratitude stone and thinking about all of the things I am thankful for. It ain’t rocket science, but it does take determination. At the risk of undermining the medical community, I honestly feel that a positive attitude is the key. And, that is obtained through a lot of avenues ... Not the least of which is a supportive family.”
He’s a remarkable man and, we suggest, he deserves your vote.
The deadline to vote is June 15. The winner of the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy contest will be on the cover in the November issue.