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HIV Is Not The End of My Life

Stories Of Promise

I contracted HIV in 2010, and I found out through a routine doctor’s appointment. I had been having unprotected sex for pretty much 10 years before that test. My cell count was low. I had been without insurance for about 5 years. I got insurance through a job, and I figured, “Let me go to the doctor for a checkup.” I had been having sex with people who were HIV-positive without condoms. I didn’t think HIV was a death sentence, but it was a life-changing event for me. I was a little bit ignorant about it. I didn’t have just HIV; I had AIDS. My CD4 count was so low that it was AIDS, and I was like, “Let me live fast.” I started doing more drugs and risky behaviors. That was my answer to it. I was trying to speed things up, so I would have a shorter life.

I had been using drugs for 23 years, like hard drugs and intravenous drugs. The first thing I ever did when I woke up was hit the pipe. It became part of my routine. To me, sex and drugs were together. In my particular world, condom was a bad word. Most people didn’t ask if you were HIV-positive. You either assumed you were HIV-positive, or you were on PrEP, or you didn’t care. In the midst of my active addiction, I did so many crazy things, like share needles with blood. To me, contracting HIV was like a sign or something to just live your life fast, and it’ll extinguish faster.

When I went to treatment, I brought drugs with me. I started doing GHB with this guy I met in treatment. I forgot that you have to measure it, and we wound up unconscious. I like overdosed, and they had to rush us to the hospital. I got kicked out of treatment. That was my rock bottom. I felt so low at that point.

I’m more open about my HIV status now. It’s taken me like 12 years to get to where I am. When I turned 50, I had such a big celebration. To me, turning 50 was like, “Wow you made it to 50; what a freaking miracle.” Now that I’m almost 5 months clean and clear-minded for the first time in 23 years, I know that HIV is not the end of my life. I want to live, which is something that I never used to say. I used to skip my meds on purpose. I don’t skip my meds anymore. Now I’m part of my family’s life again, and they see me growing. My mom is so proud, and it makes a difference. She doesn’t have to tell me to take my pills because she knows I’m taking my pills. I really want to help people that were maybe in my situation and be engaged in HIV awareness, telling people that it’s not the end of the world. It’s a bump in the road, and you have to adjust to it. I believe now that there was something or someone in the universe looking out for me.

Broward House is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

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2800 N Andrews Ave,

Wilton Manors, FL 33311

Tel (954) 568-7373 ext 7373

Email: info@browardhouse.org


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