The Best Thing that Ever Happened To Me

In 2006, I was admitted into a hospital for a “mysterious” illness which manifested with symptoms of a fever of 104 degrees for over five days. After being in the hospital for four days with no indication of what was happening to me, a doctor said, “We have tested you for several sexually transmitted diseases and all of them have come back negative. But you did test positive for HIV.” Moments later he left my bedside leaving me to ponder this diagnosis on my own. A few hours later my infectious disease doctor stopped by and told me he thought this was a false positive and told me to get retested in seven days. After two more weeks of gut-wrenching anticipation, I received the news that I was, indeed, HIV-positive. Devastated, to say the least, I mustered up the courage to make the trip home to talk to my family. No doubt, that my mother would be supportive as we have been the best of friends as long as I can remember. My father, on the other hand, was a different story. I feare

Flashback to 1980

Flashback to 1980 and I would have been about 20 years of age. It had become clear to me that my attraction to members of the same gender (sexually), was not a “phase” or anything that seemed changeable. Some close friends and family had a belief because I had “normal” relationships with girls, maybe it was a phase I was going through. It was not. I was working as a chef in northern California for a couple of years, going out to local clubs and other areas where gay men hook up. During that time, I visited San Francisco and it seemed the place to be if one happened to be gay. I met a guy there who offered me a better job and away I went to pursue my new life. Even though I have great memories of the fun and mischief I had right after moving to San Francisco, it also was when and where a horrible new pandemic of a disease was spreading. Knowing what I know now, I believe a couple of things: (1) it would have been a miracle for me not to have become infected with HIV and (2) I probab

My Spiritual Journey with HIV

I think back to the day I began this journey, and like all journeys, there have been hills and valleys. I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office-- a doctor I knew little about --and stepping into a world I knew even less about. It was all foreign to me, and I never dreamed I would be sitting in this place! I could not have imagined what was about to happen in this small, unfamiliar place. I was full of anger, fear, confusion, and every other negative emotion known to mankind. In the blink of an eye, a patient across the room asked if it was my first time there. I replied yes, and he began to fill me with encouragement with positive conversation. He had a positive energy about him that turned my anger into forgiveness, my fear into hope, and my confusion into knowledge. In that moment, on that day, was where my true journey with HIV began! He remains in my life and continues to be my biggest cheerleader. One of the hardest parts of living with HIV is knowing when and to who I sh

My Storybook of Life

Anyone that has been diagnosed with a disease always has the "what if" thoughts and fears. Society has trained us to take these thoughts and fears and lock them in a box, tuck them deep down inside and move on with hope. So, we do, and are seemingly stronger individuals. My first instinct after being diagnosed HIV-Positive, besides my survival, was to fear. I began spinning like a toy top, not knowing what the answers to my fears would be or where my answers would even come from. What about the ridicule? What about my family, my friends? What will happen if I want to date again? The biggest one of all. What about my DEATH ? Yet, I am a properly trained robot of society's “ How to Be Tough and Strong army .” I found my own box and placed each shred of doubt and worry I had deep inside. I locked it tight, wiped my hands, and continued with my "be normal" mission. Everything seemed great for a while. Family was still crazy. Work was still profiting off of all

The Choice to Move Forward

As I reflect back on my life with HIV, two realizations come to me; One - At 59 I have lived with HIV for more than half my life and; Two - I don't remember much of the bad stuff . with HIV is not what defines me. I’ve had rough times and believed I could suffer nothing more devastating, but I don't remember details. All that comes to mind when I try is how wonderfully supportive my family and friends were during these trying moments in my life. I can only remember their smiles and words of encouragement and how it gave me strength and made me believe everything was going to be okay. How a smile would brighten my day and light my way. How it feels to be loved and in love, how to let go and take it all in. Life! These days my HIV is managed well enough that I don't need to think about it much, I have other pressing matters to worry about like, what do I feel like having for breakfast? Or what is that soreness in my back? Or what color socks will I wear. Everyd

My Miracle

On December 31, 2004 I was blessed with the biggest miracle of my life. It was the night my daughter was born. My life was given more meaning when she came into my life. As life goes on, I make many mistakes, but she has loves me through all of them unconditionally. I have had thoughts about being alone because no man would want to be with a woman who is living with HIV. I was put in the hospital in October of 2010 to be told 2 weeks later that I was going to die. I remember lying in the hospital bed with my daughter who was 5 at the time, she told me that I was a strong mommy and I was going to be ok! I know with no doubt in my mind that I am supposed to be her mommy. She was right and now 7 years later I am still fighting HIV and I am much healthier now. I share that because we all need a fighter or a rock to lean on in our battle . We can be strong and make it on our own, but it isn’t easy every day. There have been plenty of days where I thought about giving up. I have had t

37 Years Later...

I had never given much thought to the virus called HIV. By the time the first case was diagnosed in the U.S. in 1981, I was already out of school and a wife and mother. Over the years, every time I heard those letters H-I-V, my thought was always "that doesn’t apply to me" until many years later, when I was very sick and diagnosed with AIDS. No one (myself included) thought of me as being "at risk for the virus." We have to encourage everyone to take care of themselves and each other by learning the facts about HIV...  Thirty-seven years later, despite side effects from the meds and three bouts with cancer, I’m not only living, but I am healthy and have dedicated my life to issues around HIV. I think lessening fear and educating everyone is vital. We have to encourage everyone to take care of themselves and each other by learning the facts about HIV, reducing stigma and getting tested so that we can prevent, protect, and reduce fear around this disease, becaus