Let me preface my findings and my experience with this disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and please do not take my advice as medically sound. Although I have experience living with HIV, it is always best to consult your own physician for your personal experiences.
Living as a woman with HIV
Being a woman is already hard enough with the constant reminder in many markets of how we are not valued as much as men. Add being HIV positive and being Black...and it’s almost impossible.
I had so many questions
Living as a woman with HIV, makes you consider every little aspect a little bit closer. "Since I am HIV positive, will my children be? Will I be able to have children, period? Will people be able to understand? How will I date with HIV? Where will I find support? Will I have support? Will I be alone?" At least these are a lot of the questions I asked when I was diagnosed.
My biggest fear with finding out my status was that all of the close contacts with my son may have exposed him in some way. What if I had unknowingly given him something?
Learning about HIV gave me piece of mind
First of all, the best advice I have taken is to breatheeeeeeeeee! No seriously, stop overthinking and breathe. When I went to my first appointment, my doctor told me to “write all of the questions you have, no matter how crazy, and come back for answers.” And I did just that. I asked questions about children, oral sex, transmitting, my period, and so many outlandish questions.
But, it helped me gain peace of mind. Part of keeping my head above water was to confide in those that I trusted, friends and family. Finding support in those I loved helped me figure out what other type of support I needed and helped me figure out if they would need it, too.
What I've learned so far
Here is what I learned after having been on a successful regimen, Biktarvy, and becoming undetectable:
- Becoming educated on the topic has not only made it easier for myself but also my family, and future partners.
- I was unable to transmit to other people, including my child, and future children.
- If I decided to have children, there were extra precautions that my doctor would outline to make everything safe.
- Sometimes people will not understand, and sometimes they will. .. either way, I am who I am.
- I have learned that dating with HIV looks almost the same as dating before, except it weeds out all of the people who do not care to know or want to know the truth behind the virus.
- Finding family, friends, or a community to support you is helpful when you are feeling alone; and remember, you are never alone.
- Smile, even when it’s hard because you are strong.
- Being a woman is empowering, and you are worthy.
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