a man wading through fog reaches out and creates a burst of energy and light, metaphor for hope

24 Years of Hope Is What I Have

As I reflect on my life, I realize that I have been through a lot and have pulled through everything that I have dealt with. Not all of it was easy, but every trial, bump, and negative outcome has made me a much stronger woman today.

Living half my life with HIV

Every year as the days get closer to May, I say my HIV diagnosis date is approaching. Even when I work to not think about it, my mind just does not seem to let it go.

In May, I will be living with HIV for 24 years. And in 3 more years, when I turn 54 years old by then, I will have lived half my life with HIV. It is quite shocking to think that I am still alive when I did not see myself living this long with HIV. 24 years of hope is what I have and still have every single day.

I get scared sometimes

Am I afraid? Of course, I am. What am I afraid of? I am afraid of getting old with HIV. I am afraid of dying with HIV. But, if I did not live with HIV, I would still be getting old, right (lol)?

I do not really know if I would pass away from old age, or some other condition. All I know is that I get scared. How many of you have felt this way? I know my health is very important and I go in and out of healthy living habits. I know that if I stick to my healthy eating and exercise, I can live a bit longer.

I still want to live my best life

Then I tell myself, "GIRLLL, you only live once! Enjoy life and great food! And boy oh boy, do I love some great food (smile). I know that I must live the best life of happiness that I can, and 24 years of hope is what I have and still have every single day.

Hope is what keeps me going

The outcome we create for ourselves - mentally and physically - is up to us. This is something that I tell myself daily. My outlook on life living with HIV has kept me very strong, but I still get scared.

Gratitude for what I've accomplished

I have lived long enough to watch my daughters grow into women and I have lived long enough to play with my granddaughter today. It is not up to me to keep me here. When it’s time for me to go, I know that I will be fine with that and I know I will live long enough to save the lives of people who are diagnosed with HIV by using my voice and my face to show them that it's okay: you can live a long life. 24 years of hope is what I have and still have every single day.

No matter the thoughts that occur in me mentally, no matter if I feel afraid, no matter how those thoughts make me feel about aging with HIV, I know that 24 years of hope is what I have and still have every single day.

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