This post originally appeared on and can be read in its entirety at The Well Project.
A Girl Like Me, a program of The Well Project, is a blog where women () can share their experiences and promote understanding of HIV. Millions of women around the globe are living with HIV, yet many feel they are alone in their disease and isolated in their day-to-day experiences. The goals of A Girl Like Me are to help normalize HIV; and to create a safe space for women living with HIV from around the world to speak out and share their experiences – with each other, and with those seeking a support community.
As we enter into 2022, we are excited to share the 10 most viewed A Girl Like Me blogs of 2021. If you missed them the first time around, take some time to check them out now for the inspiration you can always count on from our community of bloggers!
“Mid-Term Survivor” by ci.ciiiiii
"12 years, 10 months.
Approximately 4,687.27 days.
A few drug regimens.
A HIV- negative child.
What feels like 1,000 and 1 doctor’s appointments.
502 stabs to my left arm.
Because that’s where my good veins are at.
Lonely, tear-filled nights.
And I’m STILL not a long-term survivor of HIV." Continue reading...
“Inspired” by Red40Something
“For a whole bunch of reasons no one but me cares about, I’ve been doing some research and compartmentalizing in my life. Taking stock and assessing where I am not and where I could be emotionally. It has to do with realizing I don’t dream anymore. I don’t know when I last dreamed. I’ve had goals, but that’s not really the same thing right? I’m negatively triggered and it has me all up in my feelings, but that’s another subject for another day.” Continue reading...
#9: “When It’s Rare You Don’t Treat It Likes It’s Regular...” by PDEES
“Given that we are in February, which is not only Black History month but also the month of LOVE, I felt compelled to share this message with y’all. When I tell you all my light is working like crazy right now. I mean it, the attraction is real heavy. An anomaly occurred for me a little while ago. As a vertical, a person who was born with HIV, we are already rare within the HIV/AIDS population. Yet and still I was blessed to be able to find who I consider my TWIN. This person may not feel the same way about me, but the point is for me this was something I never thought in a million years would happen. For my sake, I hope that this isn’t the case.” Continue reading...
#8: “My Personal Journey to the COVID Vaccine” by MzGee1966
“Last year we were all rocked by a deadly new virus. Somewhat like the early days of HIV, we didn’t really understand the modes of transmission—we just knew it was potentially deadly. The country went on lockdown, people lost jobs, and many lost their lives. We began hoarding toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitizer. Disinfectant wipes became a hot commodity—masks, gloves, and face shields became the norm. We learned the term ”social distancing“ and felt its impact as we quickly realized how boring life was without our family and friends. In other words, COVID life sucked.” Continue reading...
#7: “Personal Reflections on the 40th Anniversary of HIV/AIDS” by Krista Martel
“It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on the 40th anniversary of the first reports of what would come to be known as HIV. My personal journey with HIV began in 1994 when my sister, Ellen, was diagnosed with AIDS—with under 100 T-cells. It was a devastating diagnosis for my family, and the after-effects (including the degree to which her disease was accepted, or not, by those around her, and what she did with that) have had a long-lasting impact on me. After some time, Ellen became an HIV advocate, and I was her biggest cheerleader in rejecting the stigma that was attached to the virus. It was also through the experience of helping her find a support group that the lack of women-focused resources became clear to me.” Continue reading...
#6: “An Open Letter to Healthcare Providers from a Woman, Living with HIV, of Transgender Experience, in the Rural South” by KatieAdsila
"Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be transgender? Living with HIV? In the rural South? Each of these issues alone can be challenging. Together, they are my reality—and it’s crucial for healthcare providers to acknowledge them all when addressing my needs.
Let’s start with language, as it is, to me, a good indicator of how you really feel about me, how much respect you intend to give me, and thus, how much I’m probably going to trust you right off the bat. First of all, “transgendered” is not a word, and is not a word as it is not possible. The added “ed” on the end implies something done with or to you: you can be murdered, you can be debated, but you can’t be transgendered. This is not the result of anyone’s actions or of any past traumas. You’re born transgender; it just may take you a while to figure that out." Continue reading...
“To Tattoo OR Not to Tattoo” by JoDha
"Even when it comes to HIV and tattoos the messages are pretty mixed. Can people with HIV get tattoos? Is there a risk to a tattoo artist in inking someone who’s HIV positive? Does a tattoo heal differently on someone with HIV?
The doctor I visited told me not to tattoo. Why? Because I am HIV positive. Because it will transmit to others through needles. Because the healing will be slow, there will be infection, there will be pus or blisters. Yes. Even in 2021, there are some doctors who are not up-to-date and will discourage about something which is almost ZERO RISK, especially when following hygiene and safety measures." Continue reading...
“My Story with HIV” by MariaHIVMejia
"My name is Maria Mejia and this is my story with HIV!
I kept my HIV diagnosis a secret from almost everyone for nearly 20 years. Diagnosed at 18 in 1991 and contracted HIV at the age of 15 in 1988, I told family and friends I had leukemia.
I became an activist more than 20 years ago and became a tireless advocate for people living with HIV." Continue reading...
#4: “Nothing But the Truth” by ConnieLJohnson
“The day my mother announced that she had been diagnosed with AIDS, my entire world shifted. Through tear-filled eyes, she explained that she contracted the illness from her recently deceased ex-fiance and wasn’t sure how much longer she had to live. I instantly wailed as if she was already gone. At the time, I was a 17-year-old high school senior filled with the anticipation that accompanies graduation and college plans. When my wailing ended, a different conversation began. My mother reached under her bed, retrieved a thick, evergreen book, and began thumbing through the pages. She landed on ”autoimmune illnesses“. Her mission: search her medical dictionary until she found a kinder, gentler illness that resembled AIDS. ”If anyone asks, I have Lupus. You understand me?“ ”Yes ma’am,“ my sister and I agreed. This was our story and we were committed to sticking to it. June 1994, I went away to college. By some minor miracle, my mother scraped up enough money for me to attend DeVry in Atlanta. I returned home at the end of my first trimester to a mother I no longer recognized. In three short months, she dwindled from a plump, vivacious Brickhouse to an unrecognizable shell of herself. By January 1995, she was gone.” Continue reading...
#3: “Pregnancy, Birth, and HIV” by Escalice
“I’ve spoken briefly about finding out I was living with HIV when I got pregnant with my daughter, but I haven’t really spoken on the entire experience. Although I have come to terms with my status and even embrace it, thinking back to that time can still be painful. I know full and well I did not receive the full support or services I should have from my medical care provider. I think of how different and probably how much more at peace I could have been, especially while being pregnant, had I received the support I needed early on. I want to share my experience in hopes that it can help other women who are pregnant and living with HIV to know they are not alone, they can get through it, and most importantly, that the chance of their babies becoming positive can be slim to none. I also want to encourage those who are newly positive to tell at least ONE person they feel they can trust. I went almost two years without telling anyone.” Continue reading...
#2: “He Died Without Apologizing!” by Destiny Smith
"It’s been almost four years since I contracted HIV. In the back of my mind I’ve always held onto a little piece of hope. Hope that the man who gave it to me would one day apologize. One day we would cross paths and we would have to have that long conversation because it was time.
Almost a month ago I found out he passed away in March of this year. I was fine, absolutely fine, before I found out. The day after I found out, my mind and body shut down. It was really different. The last time I felt those feelings was the day I found out about my status. I don’t know if his death was related to the virus or if it was something else. We never spoke after our break up." Continue reading...
#1: To the Newly Diagnosed" by HEROconnor
"Take your time.
Your life just changed in a very drastic way and all of the feelings you are feeling right now are completely valid- anger, sadness, fear- allow yourself to feel them all.
Surround yourself with support. If not a person close to you, an animal, if not an animal, an item that brings you comfort. Eventually these fresh wounds will scab over and you’ll have the capacity to invite more in." Continue reading...
The Well Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a unique and comprehensive focus on women and girls. Visit their website, https://www.thewellproject.org/, to access fact sheets (English and Spanish), blogs, and advocacy tools, and to join a global community of women living with HIV.