In 1985, Shelby Smoak was diagnosed HIV positive, a fact that he did not learn (by choice) until a few years later. Smoak’s diagnosis is compounded with the fact that he is also hemophiliac.
Set in the 1990s along the North Carolina coast, Bleeder traces Smoak’s quest for love in a world that feels increasingly dangerous, and despite a future that feels increasingly uncertain. From the bedroom to the operating room, and from one hospital to the next, Smoak seeks out hope and better health.
Smoak, a poet and novelist, who now teaches at Northern Virginian Community College in Arlington, has written a memoir of his experiences with both diseases, Bleeder.