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Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women

January 15, 2013


Bernadette Berzoza

Bernadette Berzoza, Denver, Colo., diagnosed in September 1989

Don't give up. Don't feel alone and ashamed. Reach out!

If somebody reaches out to you, accept their support. Because people that reach out to you really do want to help. You don't have to give up!

That was my determination. I wasn't going to die. I was going to be here for my kids in the beginning. Then I said, no, I'm going to be here for my community, because they need to become aware and they need to be educated.

I need to be here. I don't want to die. I want to be alive. I want to see my kids grow up. I want to see my grandchildren. I want to see them get married. You know, I wanted to do all those things. I want to be here.

I think the scary part about it is the unknown. That was my big thing. I was so afraid about, "How's it going to be if I get sick? How's it going to be if I get sicker? How's it going to be if I die?"

I used to live day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year. Now I don't; I'm just like, "I'm going to live." If anything, live your life to the fullest. Don't let this disease take control of you, or your mind or who you are. Be who you are!

It took me a long time to struggle and get to this point. I tell people this when I'm telling my story. I didn't have a substance abuse problem. I didn't have a mental problem. I didn't have other factors, you know, other than society and domestic violence. But I didn't have those other things that sometimes make it harder too, if they find out that they're positive. That's why [the organization] Sisters of Color United for Education is here; that's why I'm here. I'm here to try to help make it through those things in any way. There are other people out there that are trying to do the same thing.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Anonymous Sun., Mar. 27, 2016 at 8:02 am EDT
Stay positive and God loves you.
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Comment by: huet to the core (California) Mon., Mar. 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm EDT
I just found out on rhe 13th of March that I have HIV I have not had time to sink it in can't break down cause I have kids but I am dying on the inside I feel like I might explode I just don't know what to do
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Comment by: Eric (RSA uMlazi ) Sat., Jun. 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm EDT
Keep up the good work people.God bless
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Comment by: Siya (Mthatha) Thu., Apr. 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm EDT
My wife and I have just got the news a few hours ago, I don't know what to say to her cause she seems to be taking it harder than I am. There's only one thing I can promise her and that is to be the best husband she could ask for. It's not going to be a walk in the park in the sense that our families are very conservative and we both feel they would not accept us or look at us the same way.
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Comment by: patti (new york) Mon., Mar. 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm EDT
I am an HIV positive women diagnosed 1992 and had my HIV negative daughter in 1996.. I was an activist for a while but have been out of the loop for a while. I am encouraged by you all to get involved again. I want to say thanks for the words of encouragement and for continuing the fight of bringing awareness to all women. You are all heros.
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