Warner Robins, Georgia

Positive since 2009

My name is Rosina Assibey-Mensah, but many people know me as Rosina Ray.

At age 21, I was diagnosed with HIV. I knew nothing about the disease, but before being tested, I was experiencing nail discoloration and was extremely cold in the summertime. I was diagnosed with HIV on August 25, 2009. From that day forward, my life began again.

The relationship I was in at the time didn’t work out. He ended up leaving me and began dating my best friend. During this time, I went through every emotion. I thought about taking my life, but it was something I could never find myself doing. It took me two weeks after being diagnosed to realize I would never let my disability disable me.

I got HIV from my previous partner. He denies that he has HIV.

In 2011, I gave birth to my first and only child. She gives me so much hope and shows me love despite my status. She is HIV negative, and I am still thankful for that.

Dating is one thing I fear. I’ve had people who are OK with my status privately but don’t want it known publicly. It truly hurts knowing that people accept you but won’t do so if anyone else knows. People aren’t willing to educate themselves on this, and that is where the hatred comes from.

I came out about my diagnosis on social media five months after finding out about it. For eight years now, people have known me for my courage, my wisdom and my honesty. (H)onesty (I)s (V)alued is what comes to mind. We must learn to be honest with ourselves and the ones we come in contact with. I could never be the person who infected me.

My goal is to become a motivational speaker as well as an HIV advocate. I have hope that people will be more cautious about their partner(s). I will continue to spread the word and not the disease.

What three adjectives best describe you?

Humble, honest and inspirational.

What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement would be sharing my status. I have inspired so many people to get tested because of my story. I have also had people tell me they are also HIV positive.

What is your greatest regret?

I can’t say that I have any regrets. Everything in life happens for a reason. I look at it all as a learning experience. Not everyone can grow from his or her mistakes, but that’s how we move forward.

What keeps you up at night?

I am an artist, so I will stay up thinking of how to create things to better the lives of others. I am always writing inspirational quotes. It keeps me on the right path.

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

The only thing I would change would be to have my ex-boyfriend who infected me be honest with me. Had he told me about his status, I would have stayed with him and loved him just the same.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I’ve received was to continue to be a light to others who are in the dark and to tell my story. Knowing that people can be negative hurts, but my goal is to change a life.

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

I admire Hydeia Broadbent. She is elegant and powerful. She has been living with HIV for years. Seeing how strong she is reassures me that I will be all right.

What drives you to do what you do?

My drive comes from my daughter, my life and the lives of others. I want people to live beyond their struggles. No struggle should define us. They should only help us to become greater.

What is your motto?

“(H)onesty (I)s (V)alued,” along with “Spread the word, not the disease.”

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

My daughter.

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

I would be a lion. They protect their family no matter what. I am very protective of my daughter.