Positive since 1997
I was diagnosed in 1997 after ending a 10-year relationship.
I was in a relationship with a man I met at age 17 who abused drugs. Because I thought I was in love, I stayed. There was physical abuse, and there were times when I knew I should leave. I had a baby girl when I was 21 years old, and by that time, I knew I was living for her.
When I was 27, the relationship ended. About two or three months later, I found out that I had HIV. I sat in the doctor’s office and cried for hours. I really thought I was going to die and wondered who would take care of my 6-year-old daughter. My thought was, Who will love her like I will.
I was depressed for three months until finally I could hear my father in my head saying, “Get your butt up.” My father raised all his girls to be strong. The voice in my head was saying, “God won’t put more on you than you can handle,” so I grabbed the yellow pages and found an HIV clinic. I have not looked back, but there have been days, and sometimes months, of struggling with the fact that I was living with HIV. I even struggled with alcohol for a short while.
Two years after being diagnosed, I married a man who was HIV negative and had another baby girl who is HIV negative. I give thanks to God for another blessing.
Today, I advocate and have a talk radio show called Pozitively Dee HIV/AIDS Discussion that airs every Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time, where I discuss all issues regarding HIV. Through Blog Talk Radio, I just want to educate and spread awareness any way that I can. My show helps so many who call in and those who are listening, and that’s what it’s about.
This is not a virus that just affects me; it affects us all—especially in the black community. They need to hear, and to see, that there is nothing to be afraid of. I will keep going until I can’t go any longer, as long as I am helping someone who needs it.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Caring, open-minded and loving.
What is your greatest achievement?
Going back to school two years ago. I have two more years to go.
What is your greatest regret?
I don’t have any regrets. I look at things in life as a learning lesson.
What keeps you up at night?
The thought of what can I do to help when it comes to HIV: Am I doing enough? Also, the messages from those who need answers and the messages from the young teens and young adults who are scared.
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
I would want to change the stigma. The stigma keeps so many who are living with HIV depressed and in fear of disclosing.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My father always said walk tall and proud. Never be afraid of who you are.
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
I admire everyone in the HIV community, everyone who is doing his or her part to spread awareness and advocate.
What drives you to do what you do?
My heart drives me. The ones who tell me to keep doing what I’m doing and God push me to keep going. If not for him, I wouldn’t be here.
What is your motto?
HIV still exists. We are all in this together.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
My daughters, of course.
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
I would be a panther because it reminds me of a woman: sexy and strong.