Worcester, Massachusetts
Positive since 2011

I am 24 years old and I was diagnosed on 9/11/11. Since that day my whole life has changed. I’ve become someone I look up to and I love it. But it has also been a long and rough road, as it is for many of us that have to deal with HIV. I’ve come a long way from how I was feeling about myself when I was diagnosed. My self-esteem went downhill and my depression got worse. I couldn’t eat, sleep or do anything. I barely came out of my house. I was just destroyed by the news.

But I knew I couldn’t give up, not only for me, but also because I have two beautiful daughters. They are the biggest motivation I could ever have. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would be here writing this and for that I want to thank God for blessing me with them. I also wanted to thank my best friend who has been there for me since day one! I also want to thank the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center. And especially Maria Gonzalez for being like a mom to me even though she was my case manager—she has earned a spot in my heart!

Prior to testing positive, I was with this dude who will remain nameless, for about two years. We got married after three months of knowing each other. To me it was like a dream come true but then things started changing. He started staying out with "friends" and "family," and though I didn’t mind at first, after a while I started getting suspicious. So I asked him about it and that’s when he started to get violent. I was young and dumb. I thought, "I loved him, how can he do this to me?”

After things started getting out of hand, I decided to leave him. But my love for him was strong so we stayed friends, or rather friends with benefits. I knew nothing about HIV/AIDS. About a year later, I got a new boyfriend, who I also was messing with raw but our sex life wasn’t that good. So I would always get my way with my ex, the man I loved.

After a while my new boyfriend and I were having less and less sex and started having problems. It wasn’t a good situation. One night we had an argument and he went out and I stayed home. He was supposed to be home by 1:00AM but didn’t return until around 4:00AM. I was really upset. We ended up breaking up that same night. During the argument, I had a magazine in my hand, with which I allegedly smacked him. I did three months in a correction house for that. And that’s when I got tested.

A day before I got out, they told me they had found something in my blood work and that it most likely was HIV. The next day when I got out, I went straight into treatment. I did my research on HIV/AIDS and learned a lot about it. Thanks to POZ for providing such an amazing website and also statussexy.com. Thank you for taking time to read a little about my story.

What three adjectives best describe you?
Funny, outgoing and respectful

What is your greatest regret?
My greatest regret is not using protection when everyone around me that loved me told me to do so. I should’ve listened.

What keeps you up at night?
The fact that after a year and two months I’m still kind of "raw" on the subject of HIV/AIDS, even though I can express how I feel about the whole situation.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
I would change having so many side effects from the meds and the way people look at the virus nowadays.

What is the best advice you ever received?
That even though things might be bad at this point, it doesn’t mean things won’t get better. (Dios a prieta pero no ahorca.)

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
My best friend who I consider my sister—she has been the most loving and helpful person in my life.

What drives you to do what you do?
My children. My kids are my life and my inspiration every single day.

What is your motto?
Live life to the fullest because tomorrow is not a promise

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
Honestly, it would be my phone, wallet, meds and a sweater

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
I would be a dog because dogs have their own little ways of expressing themselves to their owners.

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