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

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues

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

Scroll down to comment on this story.

email print

March 2010

Wonder Women

by Laura Whitehorn and Staff

Aracelis Quinones, 45 • HIV educator • New York City • HIV diagnosis: 1987
I found out I had HIV when I was nine months pregnant, but not because anyone offered me prenatal testing. I had come to the U.S. in 1986, already pregnant with my younger son. One night I called my mother in Puerto Rico, and she said some people we knew were dying of “that thing.” Because I was pregnant she said I should get tested, so I did. We didn’t even really know yet how you get HIV. But now when people ask how I contracted HIV, I say it’s not important. By now, everybody knows how you get HIV. The real question is why positive people are afraid to say they have it. How can we women living with HIV empower others to come out?

Testing positive was a bad experience. They told me I had a year to live, and they didn’t give me any information. I was really depressed, and it took me a couple of years of crying before I started looking out for places to help me connect with support. I told my mother and the rest of my family in Puerto Rico right away, and then my son was born negative—thank God!

I never stopped going to the doctor, and at the clinic I read magazines on HIV. That told me there were a lot of women like me and I wasn’t alone. So I decided I needed a network, a purpose. I started going to support groups, meeting other people in my same situation. And I went back to school and started working in the HIV field. I became a group coordinator for support for other people with HIV. I became an advocate because I saw there were too many women getting infected with HIV.

I think Latina women are at high risk for HIV because of our culture. We never tell men to use protection. Then there’s machismo. The men ask, “Why do you want me to use a condom?” and they think you are being unfaithful. I know women who have gotten beaten because they asked a man to use a condom. And if a woman carries a condom in her purse, then she’s a prostitute!

Latinas also have some barriers—not only language barriers. Some programs don’t offer things we need, like babysitting. And people think that because we all speak Spanish we are all the same. But we have different cultures. For example, in a group I run, the Mexican women are more shy, they don’t open up. Puerto Ricans are more talkative, more active. And Colombians make a group among themselves, they don’t want to talk to others. We are all called Latinas, but we are from different cultures.

One thing we women all do, though, is take care of everybody first and ourselves last. My mother, my father, my dog—everybody before myself. We forget to love ourselves, and we take care of too many things. And a lot of women think we can’t survive if we don’t have somebody by our side. That leads some women into bad relationships, because it’s difficult to deal with loneliness.

The other day, I was telling one of my girls, “If you don’t want to disclose you have HIV, then you keep the stigma going because you make it seem it’s something to be ashamed of.” More women have to be open about being positive. Tell the world, “I’m HIV positive, and I’m alive and well.” I need to let other people know. I am full of life and can do anything.

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

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

Scroll down to comment on this story.


(will display; 2-50 characters)


(will NOT display)


(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules

Hide comments

Previous Comments:

  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)    

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.