August 16, 2013
Positive since 2006
I was diagnosed on May 18, 2006. I was 26 years old, with a five-year old son and a seven-month old daughter. After my little girl was born, I contracted HIV from her father. He had been unfaithful to me during a time we were separated because of financial troubles. I didn’t know he was unfaithful until after we were back together for four months.
About two months later I started feeling sick. I lost weight like crazy. One day my parents looked at me and asked "Are you on a diet?" I went to the doctor in early May with a horrible earache and fever. The doctor asked if I wanted to take an HIV test and for some strange reason I answered yes. My results came back on my father’s birthday. It’s a day I’ll never forget. The nurse put me in a room filled with information about STDs, HIV and AIDS. As I looked around the room, I knew I had HIV. My heart sank and I looked at my baby in her carrier as she slept. Tears rolled down my cheeks.
Minutes later the doctor stepped in and said, "I'm sorry, I have bad news." I told her I knew what was wrong with me. She said, "I'm sorry," and turned around and walked out of the room. I guess she wanted to give a moment to deal with my new reality. When she came back in, she gave the number and address to the only HIV/AIDS clinic in the area. I cried that night and asked God, “Why me?”
The next day I asked my parents to watch my kids so I could clear my head at the beach. I didn’t tell them anything about my results. I was afraid they would turn their backs on me. Later that day I got a room at the beach. I sat alone on the beach and watched the sunset. I asked God so many questions. “How many more sunsets will I see? Will I see my children grow up? Will my parents still love me? Who will ever want me?"
I broke down and cried. I begged God to let me live to see my children graduate from high school. That night I cried and cried until I couldn't cry anymore.
Time passed and I got medical care, but I kept my HIV status a secret from everyone. I was eating well but I wasn’t sleeping and I was getting too sick to care for my kids.
One day I was rushed to the hospital because I had a really bad headache and I didn’t know where I was or how I was hospitalized. Later I found out my older brother had come to visit me because he had called and no one answered. After that happened, my parents made me move back in with them. I had to reveal my deep dark secret. To my surprise, my parents still loved me. My son started a new school year and I was hospitalized during most of the fall.
By winter, things finally started getting and I was dealing with the new adjustments. In the spring of 2008, I met a man who accepted me and my two kids and my HIV status. By then my little girl was two and my son was seven. We fell madly in love and got married that summer.
We have been married for five years now. We have problems like every married couple but my HIV is not one of them. He is HIV negative and gets tested every six months. I never thought I would fall in love again. Or thought anyone would want me with this disease. He loves me and has been there for me through the good times and the really bad times. If it weren’t for my parents, my family and now my husband and his family, I wouldn’t be here today. I am stronger because I have them in my life.
I now know “Why me.” It’s because I’m strong and I can help someone else accept his or her life with HIV.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Sarcastic, loving and funny
What is your greatest achievement?
Doing the campaign for Greater than AIDS: Dallas
What is your greatest regret?
Not telling my parents sooner about my health
What keeps you up at night?
The bills! LOL
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
The meds—they’re awful
What is the best advice you ever received?
Live your life to the fullest
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Cookie, Magic Johnson's wife, for staying next to him all these years
What drives you to do what you do?
My family, my kids and my husband
What is your motto?
Yolo: You only live once
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A bird. So I could soar in the skies and be free
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Search: Ana Perez, McKinney, Texas
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