Below you will find stories of inspiration and hope written by women who have been diagnosed as HIV positive.
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The recent experiece with watching yet another female friend pass from this disease prompted me to write a few thoughts and feelings that seem to linger everytime a companion from my support group (or someone I know) passes from this disease.
Its been 7 years since I was diagnosed. Since that time I have witnessed 4 women waste away and die from this disease. Everytime one of us passes it is like a “reality check” for me. sometimes I actually forget that I am infected and I get moving with my life and I get careless. Careless in that I am not as mindful with my diet and exercise. In cold weather I sometimes forget to grab a jacket or sweater. I start to take relationships and my freedom for granted. But, it seems as if everytime I start to venture off the path for too long, my wonderful friends who pass on before me still remind me to live each day as if it were my last–and not to take anything for granted. As painful and scarey as it is to see my life preservers pass before me–I am eternally grateful for what they continue to give me and my family. Today, I am grateful for my job, my family, my grandsons, my home, my vehicle, my health, my freedom, my friends, those selfless individuals that continue to give to us year after year through their time and resources at Camp Care, and most important all of those individuals still involved in the struggle of fighting the stigma and discrimination brought about by this disease. I love you all.
The most impressive thing that has happened to me since my diagnosis…
When I was first diagnosed I thought I was going to die. Fortunately/unfortunately it was not an immediate physical death as much as I wanted to die. But, a slow pathetic mental, emotional and spiritual death. I honestly believed that my life was over, yet I desperately wanted a reason outside of myself to continue living. I found that “live preserver” in my grandson who was born on November 7, 1996. I forced myself to do things I did not want to do to maintain my health. I forced myself to seek out other women who were also infected. I joined a positive women’s support group. I refused to give up, even when I felt as if I was on a 24-hour roller coaster. I forced myself to look and honestly appraise my relationships (especially my daughters and my family).
As difficult as it became at times I refused to give up, eventually relationships began to heal. I don’t mean heal in the sense where there is always a feeling of bliss, but there is always a feeling of belonging and acceptance. Most important, in my journey I was denied S.S.I. That was one of the biggest blessings in disguise. I was forced to pursue my life long dream to go back to school and get my Bachelors degree. To make a long story short, it’s been 5 years since that diagnosis and I have received my Bachelors Degree in Criminology. I am employed as a Social Worker for the County I live in. I have been on a cruise to Mexico with my oldest daughter; I have been to Disneyland with both of my daughters and my 5-year-old grandson; and we’re getting ready to vacation in Hawaii this May. I finally live my life to the fullest regardless of what comes down the road.
With Hope & Love –
Singing in the Rain
World AIDS Day 2000
On April 16th of this year, surrounded by panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, I walked to the far end of the Selland Arena and began to read my way around the massive auditorium. It was impossible to read everything on every panel in one day, I was surprised at how much I missed.
In every name there was a life full of accomplishments mixed (at times) with great struggles. As I watched the tears of those around me who had endured these tragic losses I was surrounded and moved by an undeniably strong current of life. It was not the last flickering, fading remains of a candle but a force to be reckoned with and deeply respected, vibrant and alive.
I know the importance of remembering a fallen star, the way it touches everyone around it and leaves the most beautiful part of its self with us. The emotions that surged through me ignited my being at so many levels it was staggering. Each time I look at even one panel, I pray that emotional part of me never dulls.
If you missed the Quilt in April, then you missed a part of yourself, one that you may not have known was there. Don’t let this opportunity slip by you again. Join in a celebration of love with a dedication to life.