May 29, 2012
My husband is HIV negative, and has been for the last 18 years. We made our son the old fashioned way -- with pure love. My desire to parent at 33 years old was overshadowed by my diagnosis. I AM a woman living with AIDS.
Being the only positive person in my house has its drawbacks, but they are nothing compared to all the love and support received from family and friends.
The hardest part of my pregnancy wasn't carrying my baby or watching my body swell to accommodate this precious life growing inside of me. The hardest part of the pregnancy was the stigma and discrimination we felt as a family seeking medical care to ensure the health of our unborn child.
We encountered five doctors in search of quality prenatal care. What was supposed to be a joyful time in our lives turned into a search for caring and compassionate medical staff that would support our decision to have a baby. I can still hear the words the last physician said to my husband: "Why would you want to bring a baby into this world to die a painful death?" We were devastated and defeated.
Finally, after sitting in front of four different doctors, we found a team of docs that supported us from 10 weeks of pregnancy until today. We became a part of the ACTG 076 perinatal study. In 1995, my son was born and given AZT for the first six weeks of his life. We held our breath as we waited for word from the CDC as to his HIV status, got the news that his first PCR test was inconclusive, and finally received the letter stating he was HIV negative.
Teaching my mother-in-law and other family members how to administer the daily dosage of AZT only brought home the reality of my own HIV status. It was during the pregnancy that the AIDS diagnosis was given by my doctor. Every day I spent praying to the GOD of my understanding to please let me stay healthy enough to enjoy his first year of life.
One year turned into two, two into five and five into 10. Today I am living with AIDS. I have had some really bad days along the way; but the joy is in my son's beautiful smiling face that gives me the courage to continue to fight every day.
So here we are, 17 years later. My husband and son remain negative and I continue to advocate for women like myself to be present and accounted for every day.