March #162 : Wonder Women - by Laura Whitehorn and Staff

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Table of Contents

Leading Ladies

Wonder Women

Crystal Clear

Go With the Flow

A Tell-Tale Heart

Going Rogue

Medicine Chest

Shifting the Starting Lines

The Power of Pampering

POZ Q&A: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Big Talk in the Big Apple

Faith in Numbers

Tropic Thunder

Are You Positive You’re Negative?

Editor's Letter-March 2010

Your Feedback-March 2010

In Memoriam

GMHC Treatment Issues-March 2010

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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March 2010

Wonder Women

by Laura Whitehorn and Staff

Linda Scruggs, 39 • AIDS educator • Baltimore • HIV diagnosis: 1990
When I got my HIV diagnosis, I was surprised. I was 13 weeks pregnant. I have never used intravenous drugs. I didn’t realize the drug I did use, cocaine, put me at risk because I was trading sex for coke.

I had been a victim of incest at an early age. By the time I was 18, I had been raped twice and didn’t even tell anyone. I took on the blame as if I had put myself in the situation.

Life was ugly. I felt no value in myself. Instead, I turned to drugs to fill me up and got into relationships with abusive men. Then one morning I thought about my grandfather, who had really loved me. He had died when I was 10. But I felt him speaking to me, saying, “What are you doing? Get out of that bed,” and I did. I walked 14 miles to get home, and with my parents’ help I stopped using.

When I tested positive, I had been in recovery for two years. In my first post-recovery relationship, I got pregnant. At a prenatal appointment they told me I was HIV positive. They said I could terminate the pregnancy and probably live for five years, that if I had the baby I’d probably be dead in three.

I decided to have the baby. My son is 19 now, and he is negative.

Between him being born and me trying to figure out how to die, I figured out instead how to live. A friend’s sister was dying of an AIDS-related illness, and I watched her family being ashamed. What a legacy to leave your kids! And I decided that was not OK.

In my HIV clinic there was a beautiful 7-year-old who couldn’t go to school because her mom was afraid of what the school would say about her HIV. That didn’t make any sense, so I started working with kids, going with the clinic’s nurse practitioner to schools to talk about HIV.

Women are vulnerable to HIV because we compromise. We turn ourselves into Barbie dolls trying to find that Ken. We search for that artificial something that will fulfill us.

When that friend’s sister died, I thought, “If I have just three years to live, I want them to be my best.” So I began to be honest with myself and others, telling people about my HIV. I lost some friends. But every time I tell somebody, I feel a key turning in the shackles. I had some pretty heavy secrets for a little girl, and HIV became one more. I have to be free.

HIV has brought on a new sisterhood. With HIV, it doesn’t matter your height, race, education—none of it matters. What women want is to heal, be whole, find their path on life’s journey. If it had to be HIV to get me to the place I am now, where I’m whole, then I’m grateful.

I tell young women, “If the word ‘I’ or ‘me’ isn’t in the reasons why you do something, don’t do it. You are valuable.” 

The government won’t combat stigma for us. It’s a battle we have to fight. And you can live rejoicefully and be healthy. In the midst of taking care of the rest of the world, we have to learn to take care of us.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Search: gender, vulnerable, violence, self-esteem, education, parent

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  comments 1 - 6 (of 6 total)    

Ingrid Kloet, Rio Rancho NM, 2010-03-01 14:47:27
Dear friends I like to thank you from the bottem of my heart for the kind words. It feels so good to receive so many responses here and in my email, I feel truly blessed with so many friends, some of them I know in person many of them not, and it is from all over the world, I like to say thank you to all of you and really appriciate what you are doing for me. Warmly, have a great weekend. Ingrid

Dragonfly, , 2010-02-26 22:44:08
You are truly a survivor, a beautiful, brilliant, unselfish survivor. We have never actually met, but through our conversations I feel as if I have known you my entire life. Keep doing what you do, for me, for you, for all the HIV pos. people every where. We need more people like you and I proudly call you my friend.

Richard Brodsky, Atlantic Beach, 2010-02-24 13:35:57
Ingrid, you're a fighter and always have been. It's great how you look after your sisters and magazines like POZ cover our stories. One day maybe I can get you to revisit Kenya for the World AIDS Marathon, Last year we had the best time as we sponsored 3 orphan dinner dances for 700 orphans and one of them was in Kendu Bay, the ancestral home of President Obama's family.

saum Hassan, Nairobi, Kenya, 2010-02-22 18:11:55
God bless you, that is good work, you are doing, for really you have Inspir us, and others who dont know anything about HIV/AIDS. it is time people come out and tslk about it, in our muslim communit it is still a problem, but now you really helped US, thank again.we are praying for you, and you will live long, God bless you.

Kauthar Bitok, Ekdoret, Kenya, 2010-02-22 17:58:23
Hi Darling, Thank you so much for opening your heart and shareing this you have so, tachted many other peoples hearts, I belive anybady why will read this, will went to know ther HIV status. I am too Positive Living with HIV, and this is really encouraging. God bless you as you keep helping others,

Christine Harris, Buda, 2010-02-22 03:55:18
Ingrid ~ Thank you for sharing your story. You are truly an amazing women and an Excellent example for all.

comments 1 - 6 (of 6 total)    

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