July/August #173 : Sisters Act - by Regan Hofmann and Willette Francis

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Table of Contents


Sisters Act

The Anal Dialogues

From the Editor



Letters- July/August 2011


Volunteer Mission

What You Need to Know

Kramer Makes Hearts Pound on Broadway

Nearly 7 Out of 10 Young People Are Having Sex

Film About Positive Kids Prevents HIV in Thailand

HIV Wasn’t a Motive for Triple Ax Murder

Angels Travel on Horseback in Southern Africa

Showcasing HIV Stigma in China

HIV Is (Officially) a Disability

96 Percent

We Hear You

Lips Unsealed

What Matters to You

How to Age With HIV—Gracefully

Treatment News

Help for Peripheral Neuropathy

HIV-Positive? Get Screened for Anal Cancer

Isolation Hurts Health

New and Improved Treatment for Hep C

MRSA Monster Tamed

Too Little Vitamin D Might Hurt Your Heart


Comfort Zone

Between the Covers

POZ Heroes

Each One, Reach One

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July / August 2011

Sisters Act

by Regan Hofmann and Willette Francis

Michelle Braxton, 48, Homemaker; West Orange, New Jersey
One day, my husband said that the doctor wanted to see me (we shared the same primary care doctor). When I asked why, he just said, “He wants to see you.”

I went to our doctor, and he gave me an HIV test. At the follow-up visit, I found out I was HIV positive. It was in the late ’80s. I had contracted the virus from marital sex with my husband, who I believe was unaware of his status until about a year or so before I tested positive. In hindsight, I remember seeing him take Bactrim [a sulfa drug], and now I know that it is used to keep infections down in people living with HIV.

Michelle BraxtonI don’t know what prompted my husband to get tested. I knew that he had been struggling with an alternative, gay lifestyle when he was younger, before he came to know the Lord. He came to the church not aware of his past probably following behind him. We met at church, got married and the rest, as they say, is history. We were married for 13 years, until he died.

I tried to talk to my husband about my diagnosis, but he didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t have him as support at all. I believe that was due to his guilt and not knowing how to express it. But he loved me as much as he knew how to. And stupid and all, I loved him.

My foundation had always been the church, and that’s where I got a lot of my support. My mother, dad, sister, brother and friends were also my support system. As soon as I learned I had HIV, I began to tell my family. That’s so important, because I think secrecy can kill you.

My spirituality also played a part in my deciding when to get treated. I didn’t get treated right away. I prayed first about it because we believe that God is a healer and can do anything. And when I prayed, I believed that the spirit of the Lord spoke to me and told me I shouldn’t take the medicine at the time, because I would die. I didn’t start treatment until 2010.

I think my ignorance made me more vulnerable to HIV. I grew up in a church community that didn’t educate young women who desired to get married on how to protect themselves. The spirituality part doesn’t balance out with the reality of the times. I believe you should not have sex before marriage, but people do, and they’re not protecting themselves.

The church didn’t equip us to say, “If you’re getting married, you need to get tested. You need to find out your status.” The church’s platform should include HIV/AIDS programs, and a lot of churches don’t—when they should be dealing with this disease head-on. If young people learn from responsible adults who have their best interests at heart, they can equip themselves to be prepared to live a healthy, happy life.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Search: New Jersey, New Jersey Women and AIDS Network, NJWAN, pregnancy, monogamy, incarceration

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