When I found out my diagnosis, I had been infected within my marriage. I never thought of using protection with my husband at the time. And I had waited to have sex until I was married. I didn’t know much about HIV, and I did not get the sex talks at home growing up.
The short time we had been married, we had never had problems. I never had a reason to think he would be the type to cheat. Everything seemed so perfect. Until that one day he told me how much he loved me, that he made a mistake, he was human. A mistake that he couldn’t erase but was going to have to live with: He was HIV positive. He told me he had been having an affair, I was in shock! Feelings of hate and anger and questions why and how could this happen to me. I am not perfect, but I don’t live a high risk life. I did not have a lot of sexual partners, I did not do drugs, I was committed to this one man.
I isolated myself. I stayed inside. I felt lost. I went through a bad phase of depression. Depression causing me to push everyone from the outside away. Depression that lasted days, and weeks at a time. Dealing with loneliness, the fear that no one would have nothing to do with me.
I realized, Hey, I am still alive; I haven’t had any problems. My children gave me strength and determination to move forward. I have dreams and I love my life and I want to live my dreams.
I have devoted my life to helping others living with HIV or who may be affected by HIV. My goal is to fight to end the stigma and break the silence of HIV/AIDS.
I hold the Certificate of Primary Care Management in HIV care. Also I am a proud member of American Academy of HIV Medication and of Positive Justice Project (PJP), a consortium of organizations and individuals working to end the abuse of the criminal law against HIV-positive people. PJP includes HIV advocates, researchers, health and social service providers, media representatives, policy analysts, law enforcement personnel and people living with HIV. They engage in federal and state policy advocacy, legal resource creation and support, and to educate and mobilize communities and policy makers in the United States.
I have always had a passion for writing, and over the past few years, I have written four books. Currently I write a blog for The Well Project as an Administrative Member. I am very involved in my surrounding areas to educate the public and others on HIV, and to speak for those who couldn’t; to let the community understand that the face America has labeled HIV with is not true. This is not a “gay man’s disease.” It can infect anyone. HIV does not discriminate.
PWN-USA is wonderful. It gives support to women living with HIV, letting us know how important we are and that we have to stand up and push for polices that respect the rights and needs of women with HIV. We have a voice; together, we can truly make a difference. We are not alone.
PWN-USA is planning its second national summit for 2016 for women living with HIV to help train the next cadre of leaders to effect change. But we can’t do it without your support. We are also organizing new chapters in regions across the U.S. that have been hit hardest by the HIV epidemic to keep giving women like me a platform to speak out, fight stigma and work to repeal or modernize HIV criminalization laws based on outdated science.
Can you help? No donation is too large or too small, but every donation will move us closer to our goal, and will move hundreds of women living with HIV closer to the 2016 summit, new chapters in their regions–and true empowerment.
Please donate $10–or as much as you can afford–today and help other women living with HIV like me find their voice and become leaders.