Jonathan Carton

I was born in Burbank, California to preacher parents. When I was four, my parents split up. My mom packed up a U-Haul and drove my sister and me out to live in Phoenix. I always knew about my sexuality but living out west in the late 80s and early 90s, there wasn’t much of a gay community to speak of. Being raised in the church made it even worse. At 18, I started on a very long journey of drug and alcohol use. I was always a shy person but when I was intoxicated, I seemed to care less about what other people thought. Eventually, I moved out to Philadelphia and spent the next years of my life in and out of incarceration. While locked up in 2002, I found out that I was HIV positive. It felt like something had invaded me - like an alien. The day after I learned about my status, John Bell came into see me. He told me about FIGHT and as soon as I was released, he helped me enroll in the TEACH Outside Program. Over the last 14 years, FIGHT has been there for me and accepted me no matter where I was on life’s journey. FIGHT was then and is now, such a beautifully diverse place. That’s what I love about it. Because FIGHT embraced me, I was given the chance to grow within myself. Now, I get to work as a Peer Educator. It is amazing to think that someone who was once so shy, can now speak in front of large groups without fear. I like to use my own story as a teaching tool when I present in the community. My story makes me stronger and I know that by sharing it, I can help empower others. One of my favorite things is presenting to a group of people who aren’t interested in listening because they don’t know anyone who is HIV positive. When I tell them that I am positive, it helps them to learn that you can’t judge what’s going on inside of someone just by looking at them. While I was a TEACH student, I came to realize that being HIV positive was not a curse. It gave me the reality check that I needed and caused me to reevaluate the way I was living my life. My future is undecided but I know that I want to stay in this field and eventually go to school for a degree in social services. For now, I am prioritizing my job as a peer educator and putting the pieces of my life back together. I am the type of person that focuses on moving forward rather than dwelling on the negatives; dwelling only makes things worse. Today, I am rolling with the punches and for the first time in my life, I am being patient with myself.

- Jonathan Carton

Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring fellows, residents and students.

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Karam Mounzer, MD

Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center

FIGHT Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center - Dr. Mario Cruz
February 2018 – Philadelphia FIGHT will be opening a new Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center dedicated to providing high quality, comprehensive, primary care to address the physical, emotional and sexual health needs of inner-city children and youth from birth through age 24.