Hey, Listen, I Didn’t Die and I’m Not Going To Die
I came to Florida from Los Angeles. I used to work in Beverly Hills as a hairdresser. I had a great life working in Beverly Hills; going to the gym, going to fancy places, getting dressed up nicely. I mean a whole different lifestyle. I moved to Florida to be near my mom. I told her that I was only going to stay with her for one year, and then I was going back to Los Angeles. That was the original plan. I was going to come here and stay for a year then, go back to my normal life in Los Angeles.
Then I got sick, the flu.
Then, I began getting sicker and sicker.
That was when the doctor told me that I have AIDS.
My first thought was how would I tell my mother. And, the next was that this is a death sentence.
A lot of weird stuff happened to my body leading up to my diagnosis, a lot of crazy stuff. There were these welts on my body. It wasn't sarcoma, but it was worse. I had thrush. This weird fluid in my legs. I had health insurance, so I was able to use this for my HIV medications and antibiotics to treat my other symptoms.
The insurance paid the medicines for the first month. Then, when I went to the pharmacy the next month to get a refill of the medicine the pharmacy told me; no, your insurance doesn't cover you. I had reached the spending cap. It was like $1200 out of pocket for the medicines. How would I pay all that money?
A friend recommended a few options for how I could get the medications I needed and that’s when I went to the Health Department. The Health Department put me in the Ryan White Program, and I was able to continue receiving my medicine.
The good thing is that I found out that I'm HIV positive and I started taking the medicines and I'm okay. I take my medication every single day and I am now undetectable, which means the HIV virus can’t be detected in my blood in a viral load test. I realized if I wanted to get better then I needed to take my medicine. My advice for someone who finds out they have HIV is to not worry. You're going to be just fine. Start taking your meds, just start taking care of your health and you will be fine.