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This Positive Life: An Interview With Lucia

September 15, 2011

Lee en Español
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Are you on treatment now?

Yes, I am.

Could you tell us what your treatment is?

Atripla [efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC].

Have you had side effects?

Nope.

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When did you start?

I started almost five years ago.

That was the first time you started?

Yes.

Wow. It hasn't interrupted your life very much?

Not really. If anything, I'm obsessed with what I'm doing as a living; I need to take a vacation from it. It's been a while since I've been on vacation. But it's hard for me. I know that I'm just one person, but when I get the call to speak, I do it, because there are a lot of women who just don't want to speak out publicly.

It takes a lot of bravery.

I don't think it's bravery. You have to look at the bigger picture. I understand the fear that takes place, that overrides the beauty that all these Latin cultures have, because they don't understand. My community to many times allows myths to shape its understanding of this epidemic. And it's really sad, because when a person is first diagnosed, what they need the most is their family. If they have the main thing there, anything is possible for a long healthy life.

You think too many people are isolated?

Yes.

What advice do you have for someone who is recently diagnosed with HIV?

Don't give up. [Laughs.] Educate yourself. It is extremely important. Find something that appeals to your psyche and to your inner peace to help you deal with the information you will be getting, because some of it is scary. It's scary as hell. If you have something inside you that keeps you calm, you will navigate through it beautifully.

What do you have inside of you that keeps you calm?

God. I guess that's it. I'm not religious though, but I have an incredible belief in something greater than myself.

That keeps you steady and balanced and ...

Yes. I also adore animals, so that's another thing. [Laughs.]

What kind of animals do you have?

I have a cat right now.

Have you always had animals?

Yes. For as long as I can remember.

How do they help you?

They help you find that peace. There is something so remarkably beautiful about their innocence. If you're having a bad day, all you have to do is look at their little faces and it all makes sense.

How did you educate yourself about HIV -- or how do you on a regular basis?

Mainly reading, just information on the Internet, but the majority of my knowledge on the disease came from books. My partner studies medicine. He's very up to date on just about everything that's going on. He's a great person to turn to.

Were you always knowledgeable about HIV?

No. No, I've had to learn a lot more things than I ever thought possible.

Where are you working now?

I work for an agency called AIDS Community Research Consortium; better known as ACRC. I'm actually here teaching a class, because a lot of the clientele here have issues as far as getting on a train and coming down to Redwood City, which is in San Mateo County. I'm finding out that it' s not so much that they are afraid to get on the train; it's the time of day. We usually do it in the evenings, because most of my clients work. It seems to be different in the city. Most of the people do not necessarily work. Different health care plans.

I see, so this is just kind of your satellite location.

Correct.

What do you think is the most important thing that someone with HIV should know?

That they should not give up -- that's a hard one. I would say they're not alone. There is help. All they have to do is just look for it. But there is plenty of help and assistance in every possible area. Not to give up.

And with that, this interview will come to an end. Thank you so much for sharing.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.


Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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