June 14, 2011
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
Each morning that I wake up, my day is essentially my own.
While I am a single parent who maintains full and complete custody of my teen son, I can pretty much dictate how I manage my day. I can take one pill or none. I can go to a doctor or not. Let me tell you, I loathe them and have not been all year. My extremely athletic child however recently suffered a concussion, but I think you get my drift here.
We are both healthy and I have Rae Lewis-Thornton to thank for that. Her sacrifice is on a daily basis. She has suffered, been scrutinized and had her most intimate details self-disclosed so that we, who are negative, can be free.
A Day In The Life of a Diva was not my first encounter with brave Rae's tale. I remember picking up that oh-so-famous Essence Magazine and thinking what is this beautiful creature sharing with us? What I read made my jaw drop. I was young and single but heterosexual. I did have many close friends in the gay community affected though and as result I was extremely sensitive to the cause. Never once was I made to think it would impact my health personally until Rae shared her tale.
From then on I was vigilant. My physician was reluctant, but I insisted on annual testing of all things related to my sexual health. Verbiage would surface like, "Have you been exposed? What makes you think you need all of this testing? Are you an IV drug user? Are you promiscuous?" Only with exasperation would they approve the blood tests which I just do not get! To this day! I am happy that I was insistent. Knowing saves lives! Being a responsible sexual partner is the only way.
Early in 1996 I delivered my first born child. I think it is profound that I am able to share raising my son with Rae, whom I now consider one of my dearest friends. She has NO idea how she impacted my life. She knows she sacrifices for the good of her community each and every day, but she does it so selflessly that I do not think she pauses to realize her impact. I owe my health, and that of my son whom she playfully refers to as Prince, to her message and her selfless living. I can only hope the little I have given to her since we met can give her a glimpse of my gratitude! June 27th will be National HIV Testing Day.
If you don't know your status go to this website: www.hhs.gov/aidsawarenessdays/days/testing/index.html#about for more information on testing in your area.
Know your status! Knowing saves lives! Be responsible -- your community thanks you.