San Francisco, California

HIV Negative

My name is Magdalena Soul. I live in San Francisco. I am bisexual and am also HIV negative.

I came to San Francisco in 1980 and came out in 1982. I was active at the Bisexual Center for a couple of years.

My first real experience of being affected by AIDS was when my friend Tristano died in 1989. He was a member of the Glide Dance Group in San Francisco. He was diagnosed, and six months later, he was gone. I went to his funeral that year and was very moved by it.

I got my first HIV test in 1990. As the years have gone by, I found out later who died of AIDS-related complications and who has lived.

Around 2011, I got my HIV certificate from City College of San Francisco and from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in San Francisco. I also got my sexual health educator certificate around 2014. I am going to receive my social justice certificate in 2016.

On World AIDS Day, I remember the people I knew and still know today in my spiritual community who have died and lived with HIV for years. I was very moved watching Angels in America.

San Francisco was hit hard by the virus, but there are still a lot of people here—both positive and negative—who continue the fight. I am one of them.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Kind, loving and spiritual.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting my associate’s degree in computer technology at City College of San Francisco.

What is your greatest regret?

I did not say goodbye to my friend David who died of an AIDS-related illness 20 years ago.

What keeps you up at night?

Watching MeTV.

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

I do not live with HIV, but I live in a city that has it in high numbers. We need more education for the younger generation.

What is the best advice you ever received?

To end my long-term abusive relationship that I was in for seven years.

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

Vince Crisostomo.

What drives you to do what you do?

My spirituality.

What is your motto?

Live your life to the fullest.

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

My purse.

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

A dog because it is lovable.