Unknown Risks Lead to Empowerment
Like many HIV-positive women I have met over the years since D day, I too was only diagnosed because I was pregnant. Since my early 20's my mother informed me how important it was to see my OB-GYN through college and my adult life I have never missed my annual pap. I was put on the pill at 19 to lighten my periods. I was never told I was at risk of getting HIV from heterosexual sex. At three months pregnant and a newlywed, my life was thrown upside down by routine testing. The CDC did not follow up with me even after my husband tested negative. I emailed my exes on my own to try and find out how long I had it, and if I had passed it on to anyone unknowingly.
My husband feared my diagnosis
My husband and I had known each other since we were in 6th grade, we were in our early 30's, he was immediately afraid of me. He only stayed because of what people would say if he left his newlywed pregnant wife. He reminded me often I was lucky that he stayed with me after I was diagnosed. He never got over the fear of my diagnosis. He called me the grim reaper, we eventually slept in different rooms we physically and emotionally avoided each other for years after. It didn't matter how much research I did, or how many mixed-status couples I met who loved each other and remained that way.
Blogging to support women living with HIV
I became a blogger for thebody.com and pwn.com to connect with other straight women who had no idea they were at risk. Women who were also shoved HIPPA silence and told if they 'outed' themselves they could be beaten up or killed. I was told I would die from cancer, not HIV, at my first appointment with an infectious disease doctor. I began blogging to give other women a sense of comfort after the most unexpected news of their lives and from what I found doctors who lacked sympathy and seemed void of human emotions.
I'm a single mother these days in college full time working towards my new career goals in HIV education & prevention. It's my goal to continue to be a voice for HIV-positive women to hear and join in fighting the stigma that forces so many to shut up. I am not afraid of people knowing I have HIV. I am afraid of the women who will get HIV if I remain silent about their unspoken risks.
Interested in sharing your own diagnosis story, treatment experience, or another aspect of living with HIV?
At what age were you diagnosed with HIV?