I was diagnosed in October 2009. I was given my test results in Jan. 2010, my CD4 was 12 and my viral load was over 157,000. I was started on Isentress twice a day plus Truvada once a day. Three months later my viral load was undetectable (under 75) and my CD4 was 57. I have posted my continuing growing results on LTAI’s Blog before. Now on Jan. 9, 2017 my CD4 is 445, my CD8 is 473, and my helper cells are at 28% (CD4-CD8 Ratio). My health continues at a pretty good condition for an old gal of 65 years young. My health issues, which I had before HIV, have not
worsened, such as my IBS, acid reflux, etc. I have some heart issues (at 11-12 years old and had rheumatic fever) and suffered a mild silent heart attack 18 months to 2 years ago. I suffer some mild-hard chest pain and have been on continued long- acting nitro med (Isosorbide). I take blood pressure medicine and anxiety meds and both are said to be related to my HIV and other meds. However at 65, in today’s world, I think I would be on both even without HIV. It’s always important to see our doctor, take our meds and try to stay positive and active when we can.
I attend my “Let’s Talk About It” support group monthly and attend other advocacy meetings whenever I can. I talk with my support and advocate friends often, and I send Pen Pal letters to 5 other women living with HIV who I help to advocate for. I
also have a special email pen pal in Croatia, who is also living with HIV, that I email and have for almost 7 years. I feel this support and advocacy helps not only me but the other women as well. I am a member of a newly formed Leadership group for women of our communities. We have to remember that if we don’t advocate and fight for ourselves, we may get lost in the shuffle. Today’s political world is crazy and we must not be forgotten or pushed aside. We can’t allow someone else to make choices for us, without us!
Remember the words of Elizabeth Taylor: “I Will Not Be Silenced. I Will Not Give Up. I Will Not Be Ignored!”
How can we be supportive/inspirational to other family and friends when we feel so…. lost ourselves?
I have never been a what I call the “in your face type” with “things are wonderful and just smile”. I am a realist and like to face obstacles head on with truth. I can be supportive when someone is down and needs immediate support but I wonder later was that the right approach.
I am not a “Debbie Downer” but I believe in telling the truth when someone needs it. Some of the fake support others dish out doesn’t faze me nor does it help in the long run.
Facts, not fairy tales, I guess is what I believe is best. I know, I know “some” can’t handle the facts but I feel they need truth and facts head on to ditch the fairy tales.
How does everyone feel about that or how do you give support for the doom presently approaching us?
We all feel at times that we are defeated by our past mistakes or past experiences, but we have to believe that we are overcomers! And, no matter what happens and comes our way we will defeat it.
These are some things that help me to overcome my inner enemy. Changing my mind to what can go right instead of wrong
If I am thinking that am going to fail at something, I tell myself I will pass.
Expecting the best will happen when my family and I get together.
He or she will accept me, as I am, when I tell them my diagnosis, and if not, it is not the end of the world, there is more life to live. They’re missing out, not me, I understand that rejection is God’s protection.
My self-esteem is high because I honor who I am.
I am grateful for my healthy body. I love life.
As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others. – Louise Hay
I am beautiful.
I will succeed
Using humor and fun around someone that makes me happy.
Going out to eat.
Remind myself that the negative thought that I’m thinking is only negative; it has no power other than what I give it. When I give it power, it controls my destiny.
Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. -Lao Tzu
I surround myself with positive people, who are headed in the same direction as me, or who are already there. Don’t be afraid to jump into something new, live outside your comfort zone. Enjoy life!
There are many things that we can do to make our future better and one of them is giving our past away. Our past has so many bad things that weigh our lives down and it could make us sick. So, we begin little by little, on trying to make our future stronger by giving away the past and all of the things that come with it. The things that are in our past may consist of many things, such as, work, school, sports that we may play, children, and relationships. I know what you are saying, “Why give away all the things that make us happy?”
We don’t give away the memories, we give away the bad habits, and the bad thoughts that may have come to our mind throughout the day, not to mention that we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe, the toast is a little over cooked. These are just a few things that come to mind. This stuff needs to be let go or given away through your Power Greater than Ourselves, our journal, parents or maybe friends.
As we talk about the little things, some which are listed, these things start to leave our minds, body and our souls and makes us smile, and enjoy our days. This is a necessity because it is essential that we lighten our load by letting go of the past.
To have a strong future, I have given you a few things that will help to strengthen yourself, your future and the thoughts that may come to your mind. If we give away the dirt, we can’t help but feel cleaner.
Beauty- The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.(loveliness) 2. the BEAUTIFUL person or thing such as a beautiful woman. 3. a particularly graceful, ornamental, of excellent quality. 4. a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or <that mistake was a beauty> — Merriam Webster Dictionary
As you can see there many definitions of the word “Beauty” just as our own definitions are different.
This is the time to share the beauty of things in life. A good example of beauty is to always try to find the positive out of the negative. True beauty is not always about the outside and the way we look, that is always a plus, but it doesn’t define us.
There are many ideas of beauty in us spiritually, emotionally, physically, we just have to search within ourselves what indeed we think is beauty. We have to also be as consistent as we can be when showing our beauty. Believe and be honest to yourself. Even when we are going through things and we think that we are all alone, but we aren’t. There is a beautiful person or a group of beautiful people that don’t mind showing you how to reconnect with your beauty.
Remember that we are all beautiful. True beauty is having a good attitude and that is more beautiful than anything.
Support groups are everywhere. There are support groups for drinking, sex, gambling, health issues, etc. Having a problem that requires a support group is hard enough but then you add the fear of attending that first meeting. You don’t really know anybody, but you do know that they all have the same problem going on that you do and that’s a comfort. A million thoughts are running through your head when attending the first meeting. Will I have to speak? Am I being judged? How will this help me?
Most support groups are nonjudgemental and a safe zone where you can share your thoughts and feelings with people who understand what you’re going through. Being the newest member of anything is always hard, but being part of something that is helping you better, or get through your life is the best.
I was a new member of a support group about three or four years ago and I was terrified. I didn’t know anybody and was hesitant about people finding out about my status. The ladies of that first group were wonderful, though, and made me feel very welcome. Now it’s years later and this group has become such an integral and important part of my life. I love every single person so much and I can’t imagine how I would get through life without their support.
Support groups are there to help us and most of the time they end up being our biggest supporter. I encourage everybody to try one.
Women, HIV and Trauma: Toward Resiliency & Healing
06/17/2016 02:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016
Shannon WeberLove note writer + public displays of affection + mapping the end of HIV transmission
Co-authored by Karishma Oza, HIVE Program Coordinator.
One in four U.S. women have experienced gender based violence. Among women living with HIV, one in two has experienced intimate partner violence, and more than 60% have been sexually abused – 5 times the rate of the general female population.
For over twenty-five years, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center-based HIVE clinic, has provided compassionate, expert reproductive and sexual health care to women living with or affected by HIV. The impact and consequences of violence against women, particularly women living with HIV, is magnified through the lens of women’s reproductive health. Reproductive health highlights the intersection of violence and reproductive justice at the individual, community and institutional level.
Trauma is associated with: increased HIV vulnerability, higher HIV incidence, faster disease progression, more hospitalizations.
Unaddressed trauma is associated with twice the rate of death among women living with HIV.
Pregnancy, contraception, trauma and HIV vulnerability intersect in ways that dramatically impact women’s lives. Even in the face of these overwhelming statistics and devastating outcomes, there is hope. Our collective resilience is cause for a standing ovation. We can seek solidarity in our advocacy efforts and heal through relationships even as we continue efforts to create systems-level change.
Progress at the national level to integrate trauma-informed care into the primary care setting and specific references to trauma-informed care in the updatedNational HIV/AIDS Strategy, shifts institutional approaches. We share strategies for operationalizing these guidelines at the clinic and individual level with a lens toward healing and resiliency-oriented approaches for working with women living with HIV who’ve experienced trauma.
1. Shift our focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened?” Moving away from blame, allowing space for her story, staying curious, seeking to understand her worldview creates opportunity to meet women where they are and understand their lived experiences.
2. Commit to self-care and resiliency oriented approaches to our work. More than just practicing what we preach, this integration of trauma-informed principles become the touchstone for truly becoming a trauma reducing, healing system. This begins with a commitment to heal ourselves.
3. Include women. Ask women for feedback on provider and program approaches, integrate women’s lived experiences when designing new programs or crafting policies, hire women for important roles. Create space for women living with HIV to lead.
4. Use trigger warnings at the beginning of emotionally intense meetings or online content. Those with primary or secondary trauma are among us. Invite self-care. Create awareness and respect with an overview of what to expect. Respect the self-care measures others take.
5. Universal screening for intimate partner violence, with counseling and referrals. Preventative education about the intersection of intimate partner violence and health can be provided to all patients, not just those who have disclosed a history of violence. Ask questions in non-triggering, nonjudgmental language with the goal of patient empowerment and safety.
6. Rape and other forms of violence remove women’s sense of power and control. The medical system is inherently hierarchal. However, medical visits should not create more pain, violence, or humiliation. Turn commands into questions, create space for her response, provide opportunities for women to be in control.
7. “Difficult” patients may have experienced sexual trauma. She isn’t difficult; she’s had a difficult life or experienced traumas that are difficult to integrate. What might be difficult is the system she’s trying to navigate. Reframing allows space for the experience she is living, invites you to meet her where she is today.
8. The body of a survivor remembers traumatic experiences. We are somatic creatures; this is our vulnerability and our strength. Through our interactions with survivors, we can change the way we see her, then change the way she sees herself.
Toward resiliency and healing, we share this poem.
the gates call you
to move forward,
to pass through thresholds
that make you able to sustain you,
that make you able to sit in service,
to model dignity,
to recognize trauma,
to take care of community,
to live your intellect through your heart
and be wise.
the wise one asks:
what’s the beauty of what we attract?
what’s the beauty asking me to heal?
the wise one remembers the breath.
the wise one drinks the waters of nourishment and release.
the wise one works with the shadow knowing the shadow means
there’s always a source of light.
the wise one asks:
what are you teaching me?
what isn’t being seen, held?
oh, the gates call you, wise ones,
to move forward, to attend
to what needs attending, what wants attention
in ourselves and our inheritance.
call in your support. breathe.
honor the spaces between.
hold intention. clear. release.
Every year in June is national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month). Early in its development, the LGBT Pride Month was only celebrated on the last Sunday of June as “Gay Pride Day,” but over the years, the designated day has expanded into a month-long celebration that came to also include lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender individuals!
Now, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts. LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of people from around the world! In addition, memorials are held for those members of our community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. So, the purpose of this month is to honor and recognize the impact and progression that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have made for this community.
If you want to participate in any of these LGBT Pride Month festivities, please visit http://gainesvillepride.org/ for more information.
The biggest first step that you can do is saying, “I can do something.”
The words, “I can do something,”is a revolutionary and glorious statement. I am not a helpless HIV or AIDS victim. I am not at the mercy of AIDS or HIV survival statics Or a doctor’s life expectancy predictions. The life force runs through me now. Nothing is more Powerful. And I can do something!
I can call someone. I can go to a support group. I can go to a meeting. I can read a book about my immune system. I can eat a good meal. I can take a walk. I can meditate. I can pray. I can focus on my breathing. I can cry or laugh or scream or break a plate. I can ask for help. I can let miracles happen in my life.
I can focus my mind and heart in the right direction. And every move I make toward healingEmpowers me and makes me Stronger.
I am an actor in my life. I take responsibility for my actions. I turn outcomes over to a Higher Power.
What does “I can do something” help you deal with your life and all that is in it?