May 2, 2011
Mexicana immigrant, transgender warrior, coordinator of the Children’s Hospital L.A. transgender youth program, positive for 16 years.
June 5, 2011, marks 30 years since the first published accounts of what
became known as AIDS. For this anniversary, we asked 31 long-term
survivors who’ve appeared in POZ what
moves and sustains them and whether they think they’ll live to see a
cure. Why 31? One for each year, and one more for good luck.
What’s the most helpful thing anyone has said to you over your years living with HIV?
One of my closest friends said to me: “HIV lives in your brain. If you let it get you depressed it will kill you!” The friend told me, “Don’t listen to the negative stuff about your disease. Ignore it. Know that any type of sickness or complication [you feel] may not be HIV related. It could be all in your head. Just live your life to the fullest and don’t let HIV stop you from being who you are!”
What is your refuge from thinking about and dealing with your health?
What takes me away from everything is helping in my community, doing whatever I can to bring trans issues to the forefront. Being an activist, a community organizer, and a voice for the community takes a lot. But the gratification I get is knowing that I am contributing to making a positive change in the community.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
I would tell that person that HIV does not define who one is. We are beautiful just the way we are. Instead of feeling sorry for oneself about being HIV positive, just feel grateful that each day you have the opportunity to make positive changes—not only in your life, but in the lives of those around you, as well as in your community. Change is good—it’s just that it is hard to understand. Being positive is just a change in our lives, not a death sentence.
to read this article as it
appeared in the June 2011 issue.
read more of our "30 Years of AIDS" coverage.
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