It's not easy for Jack Godby to walk or talk. 

Sixteen years ago, he suffered three strokes in less than 24 hours.  

"I'm handicapped," Godby said. "I know I'm handicapped."

Like many in his condition, he needs assistance in managing the day-to-day activities of his life. But Godby said that help has been hard to come by. In 1985, he was diagnosed as HIV-positive. While he survived, many of the people in his life did not, leaving him without close friends to lean on during tough times. 

"Most of my friends have either died or have moved away," Godby told us. 

Godby said aside from the four hours each week a home health aide visits, he's all alone, which is why his weekly conversations with John Kern are important. Kern is a volunteer with the Buddy Program, an initiative through the Gay Men's Health Crisis that pairs long-term HIV survivors with a support network.

"I'm old enough that I've seen the entire AIDS crisis," Kern said. "I was there in the beginning. As a gay man it was something that spoke to me."

Kern started volunteering with the program back in 2004. For the last 14 years, he and Godby have set aside time each week to chat by phone or over a cup of coffee, sharing stories and laughs. 

"We talk about current events and television and movies," Kern said.

"And Trump," Godby added.

"And Trump," Kern said with a laugh.  

The Buddy Program dates back to the early 1980s, when an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. At the time, it's mission was to help people without any support to die with dignity. The program ended in 2005 due to a lack of funding, but was resurrected three years ago. During the years the program was not in existence, Godby and Kern continued to meet. 

The GMHC told us the program is especially important now because 56% of the city's HIV population are 50 and older, a percentage that is expected to keep growing.

Long-term survivors, according to the GMHC, are typically those who were diagnosed before the advent of antiretroviral therapies. They often find themselves lonely and depressed because they've lived through the trauma of the epidemic and have grown old without close friends. 

"The majority of people who identify as long-term survivors will definitely say that they do less, not working, losing friendships or losing people to death," Gregg Bruckno, a long-term survivor specialist at the GMHC, said.

"They want to go to a gallery, lots of people want to explore the city," Susan Rowley, the director of GMHC's Buddy Program, added. "But they don't have anyone to do it with."  

On a recent rainy day, Kern stopped in to check on Godby, who has a hard time getting around when the weather isn't good. Godby said even the briefest of visits makes him forget about his loneliness and the health problems he's dealing with. 

"It gives me a feeling of being a real human." Godby said. 

It's a feeling that shows just how much difference a simple friendship can make in one man's life.