Living To Live
I contracted HIV from having unprotected sex. This was 22 years ago. Before my child’s mother and I got together, I was tested for HIV and STIs. It all came back negative. We were monogamous. She always said, “nah she didn’t have it,” but I knew I didn’t have it at that time. I got really sick and wound up in the hospital. They told me I have HIV and I was like “what!?” I got that bad and didn’t even know what was going on. It was a shock, but it was like “anybody but me.” It really hit home. After I found out I was HIV positive, I talked to her about it. It wasn’t no angry conversation. She was nonchalant, so I figured she already had it. I just put two and two together.
I started using drugs around when I found out I had HIV. I was using before, but everything got elevated. I was using cocaine, alcohol and sometimes weed. I was in denial and trying to cope. I first went to treatment in 2017. I graduated from the substance abuse program, but I graduated because my family said I had to. This time I came back for mental and physical issues. Being here, I got treatment for all the above. I have a mental health therapist and dealing with her has been a blessing. It’s been good staying clean and sober, and I’ll graduate from the program again in October. I am housed and back on my meds, and that’s a blessing all in itself. I was only 102 pounds when I got here, and now I’m 225. It’s a big difference from when I got here to now.
Once I found out I was diagnosed I started taking medications. I was taking probably 4 or 5 pills. I haven’t really maintained my meds during this whole time I’ve had it. I just started back taking medicine like I needed to do. There were periods when I didn’t take it at all, like when I was dealing with my cocaine habit for about four or five years. I had given up on life. I was depressed and having suicidal thoughts. Thank God I don’t think like that no more. I got to give it to my Higher Power and this agency for giving me the strength to do what I'm doing now. Clean and sober for 4 months; it can be done. I’m proud and happy. I don’t want that life no more. It’s definitely worth it.
I finally really accepted it this year. That’s why I’m dealing with it here at this agency for people who are HIV positive. I thank God or my Higher Power that gave me the strength to deal with it now. I’m living with it. Not living to die, I'm living to live. I would tell someone who is newly diagnosed to take their medications as soon as they find out. You can live and not die. You can have a great life. Clean and sober and taking your meds. I’m a witness. I look healthy and feel good. I live life one day at a time. Just for today.