September 2006 was the start of a journey that changed us forever. We’d been married for 21 years and were trying to figure out why Kalvin was having health issues. I was also having health issues, but they were going unnoticed. Kalvin went to many doctors and specialists. They all had the same answer—let me refer you to another doctor. He was put in the hospital in January with PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia) and kidney failure and given two blood transfusions. He was diagnosed with AIDS and AIDS-associated dementia in February. I was also tested and was diagnosed with HIV in April.
We started slowly learning all we could about HIV and started sharing the information. We knew something had to be done because we had no clue this could happen to us.
Fast-forward 16 years and we are now both HIV advocates doing what we can to show people that HIV sets no limitations on transmission. We’ve volunteered with Positive Women’s Network–USA, the Positive Organizing Project and many other organizations.
What three adjectives describe you?
Caring, helpful, enthusiastic.
What is your greatest achievement?
Being visible as a couple showing people that love can triumph over HIV.
What keeps you up at night?
Knowing that people believe HIV is a gay disease. This is what fuels the transmission of the virus. HIV is a people disease—all genders, every age group and every sexual orientation are contracting HIV.
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
Truthfully educating people about HIV and how it is transmitted.
What is the best advice you ever received?
If you want to see things change, don’t wait for others; make it happen yourself.
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Too many to name. All the advocates and activists who paved the way for us to do what we are doing.
What drives you to do this work?
Knowing we can and are making a difference in the minds and attitudes of people.
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 black jaguar. They are very rare. Only 11% of jaguars have the dark pigment color. They are very solitary, secluded and selective about who can see them.
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