Clermont, Florida
Positive since 1990

My name is Joee Pineda and I was born in Honduras, Central America. I was diagnosed at age 19 in 1990. At first I had no clue whatsoever what HIV/AIDS was, I simply thought I had a cold virus that would go away. As I began to learn more about HIV/AIDS, I became severely depressed, suicidal and would not leave my house. I felt like I had a sign on my forehead that stated "I have AIDS,” and thought people would know by just looking at me.
As time passed, I educated myself about HIV/AIDS and now I try to help others through peer mentoring. I am a non-medical case manager in the Central Florida area and I continue to educate and help others understand how to live with HIV/AIDS.

What three adjectives best describe you?
Strong, educated and the desire to help others

What is your greatest achievement?
Becoming a case manager

What is your greatest regret?
Not finishing school in order to get my Masters degree

What keeps you up at night?
Personal issues, love life (I have none)

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
Not allowing people to put me down and stigmatize me

What is the best advice you ever received?
HIV does not define me. I am still me.

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Maria Mejia, she inspires me to be better.

What drives you to do what you do?
The desire to help others and end stigma

What is your motto?
It gets better.

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 tiger, because I can be tamed but if you mess with me I will tear you up

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