a woman with HIV holding a baby smiles and looks back over her shoulder. Her two grown daughters laugh in the background.

22 Years and I’m Aging with HIV

The last day or two has been eventful for me, and I relish in my thoughts about getting older (not that it bothers me, because I embrace that I am aging). What has been on my mind is that in 5 years, I will be 55 years old: I will have lived half my life being diagnosed with HIV by that time.

Do any of you think about that? I mean, being diagnosed for over two decades? Does it bother you at all being diagnosed with HIV so long, living with a condition you know that, without the medication (ARVs), your life may end?

HIV treatment that allowed me to live a longer life

I am so grateful for the advancements in the medications and being able to see my girls grow into women, and watching my nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and -nephews grow up. I’m in shock that I have lived so long with a condition that I thought would take my life. The thought of seeing this happen was not there 22 years ago. I remember after being diagnosed for 3 years, I said, "I can’t believe I am still here." And now I can hold, touch, feed, and rock my granddaughter to sleep.

I'm amazed at these medical advancements

It’s an amazing kind of feeling to know that people living with HIV are living there lives just as long as anyone who is not diagnosed with HIV. When people didn’t want to be near us because they thought they could contract it and then pass away...which was, by far, not true (wrong).

Becoming a grandma for the first time

Well on November 15th, 2019, I became a grandmother, a grandma. Or, should I say, I now have a granddaughter. She’s the most beautiful baby to look at. As I write this, she is two days old. I have only held her once for about 5 minutes. Not because I don’t want to, but there is something inside of me that doesn’t know how to feel.

Experiencing so many emotions and thoughts

I’m emotional and, at the same time, I’m in shock as I stare at her and look into her beautiful dark eyes, crying deep inside without anyone hearing me. I will be the best grandmother I can be: loving her, giving her everything she needs, teaching her about life, and constantly letting her know how great she is.

Witnessing this is a precious moment for me

This is a moment I longed for, and it is finally here for me to be joyous and cry about, but also to tell myself that I no longer am living for my daughters to watch them grow up; that part is done now. This is another chapter of my life, and that is to live for my beautiful granddaughter baby Mecca and to work hard to give her what I did not give my girls. Being a mother doesn’t come with instructions. So, what I have learned from being a mother, I can now correct somethings and help raise my beautiful grandbaby.

Live in every moment you can and make it worth living for.

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