Van Nuys, California

Positive since 1991

I have been living with HIV for over 25 years. I was diagnosed in 1991. I have one child, and I needed to continue to live for her. I was told that my man at the time was given a blood transfusion that was tainted, but I later found out that he lied. I was only 22 years old, so I had to grow up really fast and do whatever I had to do to stay healthy. I am now 48 and feel great. I have been undetectable the whole time.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Happy. Brave. Thankful.

What is your greatest achievement?

Raising my daughter to be a great citizen.

What is your greatest regret?

I have no regrets. Everything happens for a reason.

What keeps you up at night?

Not a thing. I have peace within myself.

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

I would have shared my story sooner because I have been living with HIV for more than 20 years, and my story could have saved people from shame.

What is the best advice you ever received?

To never give up.

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

I most admire my doctor. She is the best.

What drives you to do what you do?

My beautiful and talented daughter.

What is your motto?

To celebrate everyday as if it’s my birthday.

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

I would grab my dog because she is like my child. I promised to always take care of her. She comforts me.

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

I would be a butterfly. I have finally emerged from shame. I am a beautiful mother, sister, daughter and friend.