Positive since 2001
I was diagnosed in 2001. I went in to get tested after finding out that my ex-fiancé was in the hospital dying of an AIDS-related illness. For the first couple of years I was in a very dark place. I didn’t want to leave my house or be around other people. I was just in an extremely deep depression. I was married when I found out I was positive; we separated later that same year.
After I separated from my then-husband I moved back in with my parents. My mother has always been extremely supportive and has always been there for me. I started seeing and reading stories of others living with HIV who were going through the same things I was. This helped me a lot.
I met a wonderful man who I am still with today. From the beginning he knew my status and he accepts all of me. He’s also the father of my daughter, and she’s my whole world. After I was diagnosed I thought I would have to give up on having children, which was what I wanted most in this world. But my doctor told me about medication they were using to keep babies from contracting HIV from their mothers. When I found out I was pregnant I started those meds, and my daughter is HIV negative.
I have also found that talking about HIV and telling my story to others has helped me to accept myself. I have shared my story in a couple of interviews and also on a blog. I was also part of the Pos or Not game online.
My family and my friends give me the strength it takes to keep fighting every day. I am lucky to have them all.
What adjectives best describe you?
Creative, talkative, strong, fighter, stubborn
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is my wonderful daughter.
What is your greatest regret?
I try to live my life without regrets. Your past makes you who you are today, and I love who I am.
What keeps you up at night?
Worries about my daughter
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
The stigma that we all face
What is the best advice you ever received?
Just be yourself.
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Here are a few: Dab Garner, Robert Breining, Tom Donohue and Janine Brignola. There are many others, but not enough characters here for me to name them all.
What drives you to do what you do?
My family. They support me no matter what I do and stand behind me the whole way.
What is your motto?
I’m just me, so take me or leave me, it is your choice.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
A white tiger because I think they are beautiful and strong