The Rev. Steve Pieters is the epitome of the indomitable spirit and a force to be reckoned with. His remarkable story of surviving AIDS in the 1980s is considered an anomaly in the medical world, and a miracle in the world of religion and spirituality. With no treatments available when he was initially diagnosed, Steve devised his own plan to beat AIDS, combining prayer, meditation, exercise, nutrition, laughter, music, and just a bit of fairy dust.
Prior to his diagnosis with AIDS, Rev. Pieters served as the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Hartford (1979-82), where he was a leading gay activist. Diagnosed with GRID in 1982 and ARC in 1983, he went on to develop full-blown AIDS, stage 4 lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma in April, 1984. He was given 8 months to live. In 1985, his cancers went into complete remission while on suramin, the first antiviral drug trial. Unfortunately suramin nearly killed him, and sadly, it did kill a number of other people with AIDS. The trial was ended, but Pieters’ cancers remained in complete remission, and he fully recovered from the toxic side effects of suramin in 1987.
Rev. Pieters served for the next 11 years as Field Director of AIDS Ministry for the MCC denomination. He traveled the world, teaching and preaching about hope, grief, and surviving AIDS. He also volunteered as a chaplain at an AIDS hospice in Los Angeles. As an AIDS activist, he served on the Los Angeles AIDS Task Force, as well as the Boards of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles and the AIDS National Interfaith Network. He was featured in LIFE, TIME, and OMNI magazines, as well as the Los Angeles Times. He regularly appeared on CNN, was interviewed by people as diverse as Tom Snyder and Tammy Faye Bakker, and was profiled by Jane Pauley to mark the 10th anniversary of the first diagnosis of AIDS.
Steve became sick again in 2007, and over the next six years battled a number of illnesses, including pancreatitis, which nearly killed him in 2012. However, he came back from death’s door once again, and he has now been relatively healthy since 2014. Most recently, he has reversed his type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise.
Pieters received his B.S. in Speech from Northwestern University, his M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles.
Pieters is now retired and lives in Los Angeles where he takes great delight in singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.