Austell, Georgia

Positive since 1997

I was diagnosed in 1997. I began to spiral out of control in my addiction. I continued to use my HIV status as an excuse to continue to use alcohol and drugs. Once I became infected with hepatitis B while in my addiction, I had no options. I had to take the interferon treatment. I had to make a decision to live or die. It’s 18 years later, and I am currently living in Atlanta, attending a technical college. I will graduate in June with a certificate as a health care assistant. I am undetectable today. I make healthy decisions and have found that HIV is no longer a death sentence. HIV and life are manageable for me today.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Resilient. Motivated. Determined.

What is your greatest achievement?

Graduating from Chattahoochee Technical College in June. I was in their work-study program continuously while a student.

What is your greatest regret?

Not completing college in 1991.

What keeps you up at night?

How bright my future can be if I continue to make healthy decisions.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?

Resources that are available.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Get out of “self” and help someone else who is affected by HIV.

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?

Steven Vargas, program coordinator at MAP—Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.

What drives you to do what you do?

Success drives me—despite all of life’s challenges.

What is your motto?

HIV doesn’t determine who I am.

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?

My medication.

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?

I would be a dog because they are man’s best friend.