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Newly Diagnosed? Words of Encouragement from HIV-Positive Women

January 15, 2013


Antionettea Etienne

Antionettea Etienne, New York City, diagnosed in 1997

First thing I would tell them to do is breathe. Second thing I would inform them of is that this is not a death sentence.

It's not a death sentence. You can live being HIV positive. You can live longer than most people being HIV positive. But you have to acquire the knowledge. You have to get a good primary care physician. You have to have a good support network in order to deal with this.

The stage in your life when you tested -- whether you're HIV positive or you have AIDS -- also plays a great part. If you test HIV positive, then you can go out and get the knowledge and help yourself and be healthy. If you test with AIDS and your T-cell count is really low and your viral load is going out the window, then I suggest immediately that you start medication, that you get a support network and that you get a therapist, because this is hard to deal with.

A lot of people say, "Oh well, I tested HIV positive a year ago and then I went and did this, etc." That's that one individual. Remember, everybody's different!

I used to be an HIV tester. I've tested people that wanted to pull my dreadlocks out. But I've tested people that, when I told them that they turned out HIV positive, they just sat and stared at me. I said, "Are you OK?" They said, "Yes, I'm fine," and they walked out. Some of them I never saw again; some of them I heard back stories; some of them went into treatment.

I think we need to put more stuff in place for those that test positive, especially today. It's definitely needed, because there's so much going on in the world, so we need to assist people who test positive a little bit more. We need to give them factual information and lots of support -- that's the most important thing. First you give the support, then you deal with the meds and everything else, but the support is necessary.

It's like having a good girlfriend. If you have a good girlfriend, you can tell your good girlfriend anything. You may not tell your husband everything, but you'll tell your good girlfriend anything. Get a good girlfriend or a good boyfriend to support you.

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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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