Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, La Paz, Bolivia; Diagnosed in 2000
I talked to my sisters, especially the one who had the idea of doing the test. I blamed her. I said, "This is your fault, because I'd rather not know." But actually, it was really good that she suggested it, because I also was to discover that I tested HIV positive maybe three or four years after being infected. This gave me the chance to change my habits and to start treatment early enough; I never got sick, like being in bed.
Even though my older sisters tried to help me and explain it, for three months I was isolated and really ... I didn't know what was going to happen until I decided to talk to my family. I decided that their response was going to determine what I was going to do. If my family ever rejected me, I was going to kill myself. After they responded with a lot of love, I decided to live.
I told them after three months. My father is a pastor in an evangelical church in Bolivia. He's very well known. I knew this was not what the pastor expects to happen to his daughters. We are three sisters. I am sure no father expects this to happen with his children. So I knew this was going to be a very difficult situation for them to understand, but I had to tell them, because I thought I was going to die. I wanted to explain.
Then my parents told me that they didn't care about what happened in the past, and how I got HIV -- they didn't ask me any questions. My parents told me, "You are our daughter, and we love you and we will love you, three months, six years, ten days ... however long you will live, we will be with you." That really changed my mind. Since that moment I decided that it was worth living, even with HIV.