I am a 40-year-old black woman. I started using heroin when I was 17 years old and didn't even attempt to quit until 1992 when I found out I was HIV+. I pride myself on being intelligent and sensible. I did stop nodding long enough to realize that if I did not stop using I would surely die. I was already killing myself little by little. I didn't want to rush it.
I have to take a moment here to tell you about my doctor. Her name is Rochelle Rawls, a very beautiful lady who is most definitely one of my role models and mentors. She is not only my medical provider, she's a friend. She was someone I felt I could talk to, and that's extremely important in our situation. For some reason it was important to me not to let her down. I guess it was because she was one of the first people who actually seemed to care about whether or not I made it. So even though I was still using, I kept my doctor's appointments (more or less). I took my medication and basically did what I needed to do to stay alive and get on the right track.
Thus began the long, hard, never-ending road to recovery. I've been in more residential programs and out-patient clinics than I care to remember. Finally I tried methadone maintenance and guess what?
I've been clean 2 ½ years! My T-cells are 700-something; my viral load is non-detectable; I feel great; I have an apartment, a car, credit cards, a bank account, a fantastic job working with wonderful people doing something I love; and making more money than I've ever made.
HIV wasn't the end of my life; it turned out to be the beginning of a better life! That's what I meant about the "principle of reverse." I took what some people view as a tragic predicament and used it to turn my life around. My life is better now than it has been in years! I didn't do it alone though. I found out that people you least expect will help you if you try to help yourself, and God was right there beside me all the way.
I want to thank the staff at Women Alive for giving me a chance. I love my job and I plan to be the best that I can be. I will end this by saying that you can do anything you want to do if you want it bad enough.