HIV-positive Md. man aiming to land cover of future Men's Health - New York News

HIV-positive Md. man aiming to land cover of future Men's Health issue

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Vaughn Ripley (Photo: Men's Health) Vaughn Ripley (Photo: Men's Health)
BRUNSWICK, Md. -

A Maryland man could end up on the cover of Men's Health magazine. Right now, Vaughn Ripley is at the top of the leaderboard and might win the top spot on the coveted magazine.

But he has dodged death to get to today. The incredibly fit Ripley is eager to educate people about the health challenges that nearly took his life.

He isn't supposed to be here. As a child, he was diagnosed with hemophilia – a condition where his blood did not clot.

“Mom was heartbroken,” Ripley said. “What mom isn't?”

Before the 1950s, the life expectancy of a hemophiliac was 11 years old. Back then, treatments to help clot blood were not available.

“All of my hemophiliac friends, my childhood friends, they all died,” he said.

In the 1980s, there was another devastating diagnosis. Ripley had gotten the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion.

“I remember it very clearly,” he said. “The doctor who told me -- he stared at the ground while he told me. He was looking at his shoes. He said, 'Son, I have to inform you that you’re HIV-positive and you have fewer than two years to live.”

Today, he cycles, lifts weights and does Tai Chi.

He has lived to age 47 and he's planning to be around for quite a while.

“Yeah, it's kind of a miracle, isn't it?” he told us.

He attributes much of his success to his girlfriend from way back. She stuck with him and eventually became his wife.

“She helped carry me through some of my darker and tougher times, and now here I am thriving,” said Ripley.

Technically, they have two children, but Ripley's wife thinks he's a kid too.

“She thinks I'm a goofball,” he said.

That is why she laughed when he said he might enter the “Ultimate Guy” contest in one of his favorite magazines: Men's Health.

Here's this page, it’s a full page and it's just a silhouette of a guy, and it says, ‘Are you the ultimate guy?’ Could you be on the cover of Men’s Health?” he told us.

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.”

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.

To vote for Ripley, click on the following link:

http://www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

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