My trip to Washington DC was a most enjoyable yet overwhelming experience. I was surprised at how many people came from different parts of the country who are either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
I learned that AIDS is the worlds number one killer of women. Being HIV positive, it made me take a long and serious look at me, my life, and how I had to live it. I had to realize that changes were necessary in order for me to prolong my life.
I attended nine different sessions, and had the opportunity to attend educational workshops. I learned how to prevent myself from getting sick from exposure to germs that I can avoid. For example, avoiding tap water can help to prevent illness such as Crypto sporidium and MAC infection.
I learned about accessing treatments through the clinical trials system. Some therapies are only available if you join a clinical trial. The protease inhibitors are a good example of this.
I discovered that along with those of us who carry this virus are those who are affected by the virus, such as family members, lovers, and friends of people with AIDS or of people who have died from AIDS. I shared peoples pain, fear, concern, and most of all hope. I felt a tremendous amount of love, hope and determination from all the women in attendance and those who presented information. Most importantly I learned that today I have a say so in my medical treatment.
The conference experience inspired me to become an AIDS activist. I know that I can and will fight for what I need to stay alive as long as I can, even though "the cure" may or may not be here in time for me. I can make a difference in my life & the lives of others who are also HIV infected. Maybe I can make it easier for the women who come behind us who will have to deal with AIDS. I will be as supportive as I can in the cause of fighting AIDS on all levels. I now have some strength for this journey called "HIV/AIDS".