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A Poem by Paula V. Reid

April 9, 2013

Paula V. Reid is a nurse practitioner and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington School of Nursing. "This is my dedication and tribute to my patients who live with HIV. I will never be the same because of the way you have touched me, seeing how you continue to move forward every day in this society with preconceptions and misbeliefs. It has been a difficult task, but I have tried to put myself in your place. This is my interpretation of what may be your thoughts, desires and beliefs. Thank you for sharing and changing me, I will be a better health care provider because of you."

The Unique Woman

Hello, I am special just like you.
Why should anyone feel differently?

Is it because I may be
a drug abuser,
a prostitute,
a homeless person,
or do you believe I'm a nobody?

Have you ever thought I could be
your mother,
your sister,
your friend?
Would that make a difference?

But in the whole scheme of things, does it really matter?
Because the most important issue is
I am a woman that needs your help.
Are you in a position to give me that help?
I need to be loved.
I need to be cherished.
I need to be cared for.
I face extraordinary challenges every day
and many times face them alone.

Some women have children,
spouses and loved ones to care for.
Where do I get the strength
and energy to keep going?
Don't I need compassion?

That is why I am the unique woman.

I hear you talk about me in the hallway and stairwells.
"I have to see that HIV lady down the hall."
"Oh boy, I am the next one up for an HIV case."

Treat me the way you would want to be treated.
That is what I ask of you.
Don't ask me, "How did you get it?"
unless it is relevant to my care for that day.
When I cry, cry with me.
When I laugh, laugh with me.
Then, when I am alone it won't be so bad.

My walk is hard and the road is tough,
but with your help it could be gentler.

I am reaching out to you.

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