I was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. In 2005, I was ill and was diagnosed with AIDS. During this time, I had no desire to live. HIV felt like a death sentence to me. I didn’t think I was going to live to see my children graduate from high school, go to college or ever see my grandchildren. My turning point was when my 14-year-old son said, “So you’re just gonna take the easy way out? I know I have my grandparents, but it’s nothing like having you for my mom.”

Those words hit me hard and made me think about the long road that lay before me. I stand here today thankful that I’ve been blessed to see each milestone I thought I’d miss. I no longer live a life of shame and guilt or afraid to disclose my status. Today I live because I have everything under control.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Compassionate, selfless, determined.

What is your greatest achievement?

My children and learning to live with HIV.

What is your greatest regret?

Doubting myself and not knowing my worth.

What keeps you up at night?

My concern for others.

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

I wouldn’t change anything. Living with HIV has truly shown me the true colors of others and who values me as a person.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Learn to say no without explaining yourself.

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

People living with HIV/AIDS.

What drives you to do what you do?

The happiness in the lives of those I’m able to touch.

What is your motto?

“Always strive to see the good in others.”

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

My wallet. It has all of my personal info.

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

A lion. They’re protective, and they rule.