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Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Living With HIV/AIDS (Video Series)

October 20, 2012

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

"It took a lot of work to get here," renowned speaker, blogger and advocate Rae Lewis-Thornton recalls of her 25-plus years living with HIV/AIDS. There was a time in Rae's life when she didn't think she'd live past the age of 33; now she's past her 50th birthday. And how does this long-term HIV survivor stay grounded, poised, adherent to her HIV meds and ready to roll with more than her share of punches? Watch all the videos in the series to find out.

Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Her HIV Diagnosis and Childhood of Abuse
Rae was enjoying a career in high-level political organizing when she was diagnosed with HIV. The year was 1987; for the next seven years she barely told a soul about her diagnosis, which eventually progressed to AIDS. In this video, Rae talks about her early years -- not just as a young woman living with HIV at the dawn of the epidemic, but as an adult survivor of a childhood marred by sexual and emotional abuse.

Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About 25 Years on HIV Meds
Rae's list of past treatment regimens reads like a history of HIV drug development -- because it is. In the next segment of this multi-part video interview, Rae shares her experiences with "all the nucleosides" -- starting with AZT -- and the mixed blessing of hope and crippling side effects that was the earliest protease inhibitors.

Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About the Cost of Living With HIV
"If I had to pinpoint a couple of things that AIDS has really affected," Rae Lewis-Thornton recalls, "it would be my career and, thus, my financial situation." Rae was forced to take a step back from her burgeoning political career when she made her transition to AIDS -- and like many long-term HIV survivors, she didn't think she would live very long so she didn't save money. Now, paying for the meds that keep her alive is a constant worry. "The bottom line is, AIDS is a burden."

Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Social Media and HIV/AIDS
Here in the online HIV/AIDS community, it's hard to remember a time when Rae Lewis-Thornton wasn't the social media maven she is today. But believe it or not, she was resistant to blogging and tweeting at first. Now she has thousands of loyal followers and readers, and considers social media work to be an essential part of her activism. "I've taken this social thing, and made it for a socially conscious cause," she says; "And it has reinvented me."

Rae Lewis-Thornton: A Diva Talks About Sex, Dating and HIV/AIDS
In the years before she was well known as a woman living with AIDS, Rae Lewis-Thornton struggled with disclosing to partners just like most others. "Just like you have the right to not date somebody who's unemployed, you have the right to not date somebody who has HIV," she says; "But I never had a man say no." Rae shares her dating experiences, her journey toward self-love above all else -- and her response to men who've wanted to have sex with her without a condom.

Rae Lewis-Thornton Shares Tips for Beginning to Live With HIV
Renowned speaker, blogger and advocate Rae Lewis-Thornton has been living with HIV/AIDS for more than 25 years -- and she's learned a lot about survival along the way. In this video, Rae shares wisdom from a long life with HIV/AIDS, especially for those who've just found out they're HIV positive.

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