Tag Archives: hiv

My Journey: It Could Happen to Anyone

As a woman living with HIV, I have been through a lot in my life. As someone who was born with the virus, I grew up taking medicine, going to numerous doctor appointments, and getting stuck with needle after needle. This was normal to me, as I never had a life before my HIV diagnosis. Being born with HIV puts you in a different category from those that acquire it later in life.

I was born in the ’80s, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and the virus was still so new that people didn’t really know what it was or how it was transmitted. At that time, they had no medicine to treat it, and I was not expected to live past the age of four years old. My birth mother had her own problems and so almost immediately after I was born, I was taken from her and placed in foster care. Thankfully, I was placed with a foster family that would become my forever home. Growing up, I never knew why I had to go to so many doctor appointments or why I had to take pills every day. Most of the time, I would find ways to not take my medication because it made me feel sick and I felt better without it.

My parents would set out my pills for me each day and I would flush them, throw them away, and do everything with them but take them. I ended up in the hospital for a month with stomach colitis because of the inconsistency with which I took my medication. Seeing me struggling to take the medication and my poor numbers as a result, my parents finally sat me down at the age of 12 and had the family therapist tell me my HIV-positive status. At that time, I did not really have any idea of what HIV was, so I immediately told my two best school friends. I was lucky that they never told anyone, or if they did, I never heard about it or was ever treated any differently. As I grew up and went on to high school, I started becoming aware of how negatively those living with HIV were perceived. I made the decision not to tell another living soul, and I did not. I still was not taking my medication consistently, so I had no trouble hiding that part of it. If I spent the night at a friend’s house, I would not even worry about not taking my medication. My friends would sometimes ask me why I would not donate blood when they were doing it, and I would just tell them it was because I was afraid of needles. I kept quiet about my status for the rest of middle school and all through high school.

To this day, those classmates and friends that I grew up with, still don’t know that I’m a woman living with HIV. This unique perspective is one of the many factors that have shaped me into the person and woman that I am today. I have always been motivated but became even more so after the birth of my son, who is negative. Being a single mother, while also living with HIV, has brought out a strength in me that I did not know existed. I grew up in a stable, loving environment and this is the kind of life I am motivated to give my son.

I recently graduated with my master’s degree in Business, with a focus on Healthcare Management. It was an online-only, 2-year graduate program, and in those two years, there were many times when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. I stayed up late to work on assignments. I was exhausted, nervous and stressed, etc. But I put my nose to the grindstone and kept pushing forward because I knew, in the end, it would be worth it. I would be one step closer to achieving the goals and dreams I had planned out for my son and myself. During the two years I was in school, I still had to keep up with taking my daily medications, going to my doctor’s appointments, getting labs drawn, and working a full-time job. There were some nights I would be so busy with my son and doing schoolwork, that I would forget to take my medicine. On other nights, I simply wanted a break from swallowing pills, so I would make the conscious decision not to take them at all. During all this time, my viral load never increased beyond undetectable, but my CD4 count did drop some, which I attribute to the constant stress and exhaustion of it all.

Being a mother, single or otherwise, is definitely stressful in its own right. But, when you add school, living with HIV, making sure to eat healthily and exercise regularly, working, and so on, to it, everything becomes one big melting pot that often threatens to boil over. I have always found ways to push through the hard times because I have had no other choice. I have a little person depending solely on me to make the right decisions. I am thankful and appreciative to have the support and generosity of great friends and family, which is not something that a lot of people have. Their love, empowerment, and inspiration, it helps motivate me more to live a life that is successful, rewarding, and courageous.

– Crittlecakes

A more convenient, monthly treatment for HIV cleared a key hurdle

Once-a-month injection of antiretrovirals works just as well as a daily pill regimen, trials show

In two clinical trials, a monthly injection of antiretroviral drugs was shown to be just as effective as a daily pill regimen at controlling HIV.
SERGII PETRUK/ISTOCK /GETTY IMAGES PLUS

By Jonathan Lambert
MARCH 4, 2020 AT 5:00 PM

People living with HIV are one step closer to having a once-a-month treatment alternative to downing two or more pills a day.

There is no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But combination antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can effectively halt the replication of the virus, nearly eliminating it from the bloodstream and prolonging life expectancy (SN: 11/15/19). For the therapy to work, though, people must stick to a daily regimen of two or more pills, which experts say can be a challenge for many.

Now, the results of two phase III clinical trials suggest that a monthly shot of antiretroviral drugs works just as well as daily pills, researchers report March 4 in two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. If approved by regulators, the therapy could be a more convenient treatment for the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States.

“From a patient perspective, these results are very positive,” says Elizabeth Tolley, an epidemiologist at FHI 360, a public health nonprofit based… click here to read more.

You are Invited to be a part of Let’s Talk About It

We meet monthly as peers to talk, share experiences, and just to educate each other. We strengthen our skills as we reach out to make the road easier for others. All of the LTAI women are dealing with the same issues and we talk about how to overcome barriers and obstacles in life.

We develop posters, magazines and participate in activities to share our stories, so that others can learn from our experiences. 

What can women gain from joining LTAI?
They get to know how other people relate to us, they can relate to each other and they can understand each other. 

What skills can you learn at LTAI?
We talk about our eating habits, how to best take our meds, how we can deal with life itself. We learn how to love one another and how to reach out to each other.

Can you give an example of how LTAI has been helpful for you?
I have learned how to not be so aggressive; I have a lot of anger. I have learned how to call on other people for ideas about how to handle a situation or certain resources that might help me.

I think more women need to get involved in LTAI because we get to express our feelings, we get to talk about anything and everything that we want to talk about… and it does not go any further than our group. We don’t have anyone pre-judging us because of our illness.
We can make a difference in the lives of other women!!

By  “L. H.”

From HIV/ AIDS to COVID-19

This pandemic brings me back 37 plus years to the dark days of HIV. As a woman living with HIV little was known back then, as little is known about the coronavirus, except we all know how we can stay safe from contracting this deadly virus! The scientists are making great strides on a vaccine.

We must all do our part by keeping safe and educating as many people as possible.
So, sisters, let’s do this ! We are all in this together and much better equipped with knowledge.
“Again, stay in and educate”

Read more…

Interim Guidance for COVID-19 and Persons with HIV

Last Updated: March 20, 2020; Last Reviewed: March 20, 2020

This interim guidance reviews special considerations for persons with HIV and their health care providers in the United States regarding COVID-19. Information and data on COVID-19 are rapidly evolving. This guidance includes general information to consider. Clinicians should refer to updated sources for more specific recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Click here to continue reading.

Moving Ahead

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and as a community, I think it is very important that we understand the reason why we have to fight so hard to end the epidemic again HIV/AIDS.

As people of color, we are already fighting against the injustice of racial barriers, which increases the stigma of those living with HIV.

We wanted to share this straight-to-the-point blog by Venita Ray, a woman who has touched many lives. Click the image below to visit her blog. We hope that you will find the strength to speak out and advocate for yourself, your sisterhood and your community.  We want you to know that you are not alone and if you feel that you are in need of support, we are here for you. You can reach us at letstalk@rwhp.org.

How Ironic-Part 2

When I was leaving New York Back in 1991 I was also planning my funeral. I wanted to spend the time I had left enjoying my son. I had been diagnosed with HIV in 1983. Now that was one of the hardest things for me to face- knowing I had to leave him orphaned. No amount of therapy could take that deep hurt from my heart.

So, I learned to cherish every moment I had.  Because back then, no one knew what the lifespan was for someone with HIV.  I would hear from doctors different things like “you could live another three to five years.” Then another doctor – I remember her telling me the magic number is now “seven years.”

It’s been thirty-two years since my diagnosis and I am still going strong. I am healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, And, I must say I have become more sassy in my older years. Ironic to say, but I give all the credit to having the big V. Not the best way to change your life, but for me it was, that was my blessing in disguise. I am still learning of life’s endless possibilities. I no longer need to just survive – I can actually have a life.

I had the privilege to help raise my three granddaughters, which for me, there is no greater pleasure in life. I thought being a mother was, but when you are blessed with grandchildren it takes you to a whole other level.

Who knew I would be still here today so eager to make a difference in this life, this is some of what paying it forward means to me.

What are your thoughts? Let us hear from you…

National HIV Testing Day

16eNational HIV testing day is tomorrow June 27th and we thought it was the perfect time to remind everyone of the importance of ADVOCACY!

As one LTAI member always says, “Knowledge is power,” and one of the best ways to make a change in someone’s life is through education. We encourage all of our readers to be advocates, whether you are positive, a caregiver, or a provider; you can make a huge impact in your community by promoting HIV/AIDS testing.

Send out a FREE testing reminder designed by the Let’s Talk About It advocates by clicking here: http://letstalk.rwhp.org/ltai-e-cards/

There are many FREE testing sites for your community to take advantage of. Below are some great resources in the Gainesville area for you to share with your family, friends, and community members.

FREE CONFIDENTIAL HIV testing and counseling:
Library Partnership: 11am-3pm
Cone Park Library: 11am-3pm
HealthStreet: 9am-5pm                                                                                                                                            For more info contact HealthStreet at 352-294-4880

Macy’s/Gainesville Oaks Mall: 1pm-8pm                                                                                            Alachua County Health Department HIV program staff & MACY’s MAC AIDS foundation will offer FREE HIV Rapid testing.