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When your best freind is HIV-positive
By Athena Lyn Duff

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Jaz sits on top of a dumpster in fern Alley near Polk street dying her hair while we talk. Today it's purple; last Saturday it changed from blue to green to red within four hours.

We're friends. Jaz and me, even though I have home and she doesn't. Maybe it's because we both like photography and writing, maybe it's just some weird act of fate. Sometimes I think we understand each other so well because I used to be homeless like her, and I haven't forgotten what it's like. who knows? What I do know is that I have this friend named Jaz and she's special to me and I probably even love her, and she got HIV.

Jaz is 17, and she's been living on and off the streets for years. Her family moved around a lot so she hasn't been to school since the sixth grade, but she's really smart and reads all the time. I think her parents just moved one day and left her behind. She says that she couldn't find them now even if she wanted to. But she really doesn't like to talk about it.

She does talk about how she's tired of being harassed by the police because she's homeless sick of bad drugs and a hard life. She says wants to leave San Francisco.

"I'd miss you if you left. Would you write?"

"Nah, I don't do that."

There's a whole list of things that Jaz "don't do." She don't do sneakers, she don't do group homes, she don't do showers, and don't do stay in one place for very long.

I think Jaz is really cool. She has innate ability to sense when people are,'t being strait up with her, and for a junkie, she's pretty damn honest, too. I want to feel close to Jaz, but it's hard, knowing that she's probably going to die a lot sooner than I am. I don't want to feel sorry for her and have that be the reason for our friendship.

Sometimes I worry that she doesn't take very good care of herself-doesn't see a doctor , doesn't eat right, sleeps outside. And she shoots drugs a lot. You could walk down Polk street and see her sitting on top of a garbage can spare changing and yelling at anybody who'll listen "I wanna hit! Goddamn it, I wanna hit."

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HIV, AIDS, homelessness, Youth, children