What HIV Gave Me

HIV sharpened my focus. Before my diagnosis, I was fluttering about, spreading my energy thin on things that were beyond my control to change, things that didn’t concern me or things that were simply bad for me.

My HIV diagnosis

After that fateful 47th birthday, when my PCP called me at home to share my status with me for the first time, things immediately got prioritized.

It was 2017, fall in Ohio, and my relationship...a reconciliation with my ex-husband after a 7-year hiatus…was strained at times. I remember coming out of the bathroom, where I had been on the phone with my physician, and blurting it out.

Relationships and undetectable viral load

My partner, who was negative for HIV, made me feel uninhabitable to the point where I chose homelessness over remaining in a home with him. Instability and transition followed for the next 2 years. Meanwhile, I was undetectable within 3 months, thanks to ART.

Living well with HIV

I could not put my finger on a moment that it happened, but somewhere in this process, I garnered the tools to narrow my focus, to slough off hanger-ons and toxic people. I learned to pass some batons to my kids and meditate and hike next Sunday instead of going to that rally. I was able focus on my broader dream of opening transitional housing to a more defined transitional housing for HIV poz people.

Finally, HIV changed my priorities to include wellness and health care and maintenance. Because of Ryan White funding and current protocols for testing, several other health conditions have been uncovered and treated.


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