How have your relationships with family and friends changed since you were diagnosed?
My relationship with my family has not changed at all since I was diagnosed. I'm very open with my status. But one thing I do notice about my family is that we don't talk about it. The only person who talks about it is my father. Everybody else just sees me as Precious, and I'm not sick or anything, so ... But I have to be honest. A lot of my family doesn't know. Only my immediate family, my father, mother, brothers and sisters know. Except for one cousin, my other relatives don't know. It's not important. It's not that you have to tell everybody. But if they happened to see my poster and ask, I would let them know. The poster was a campaign they did out here in Los Angeles called "HIV Stops With Me." At first I was really scared -- because people would say, "She's got it." But then after a while I thought about the real purpose and the reason why I did it -- to get the message out. It's not about me.
How do you decide whether to disclose your HIV status to someone?
Maybe a conversation will come up and we'll talk about HIV and I'll disclose my status. I don't have a problem with that. It allows for education, because people have their opinions of what HIV-positive people look like, and then I burst their bubble and it's like, "Oh, you don't look sick."
What is the best response you have ever gotten from telling someone? And what is the worst response?
I've always gotten more positive than negative. Recently I spoke at a women's empowerment breakfast, and this young woman came up and told me how touched she was by my story and how that really helped her look at herself and the choices that she makes.
The worst was when I was working at Edison Security. I was leaving to come to Women Alive, and one of my coworkers asked where I was going for my new job. I told her and she immediately had this reaction like "Oh, oh my God!"
How has your sex life changed since you become positive?
We use protection because I don't want to be infected with my husband's strain of HIV. Even though I'm not on medication, it's about protecting myself.
Did you make any New Year's resolutions?
My New Year's resolution is to get better at managing my money. You know, saving money, spending it wisely. I spend it on food! I eat out a lot. I'm used to being by myself, and now that I'm married, I feel I need to go home and cook.
What's the greatest adventure you've ever had?
I always wanted to go to Atlanta. My family is from down south, but I was raised out here in L.A. I feel more comfortable down south because that's where my roots are. So I went with my mom about four years ago. My mom at that time had about 16 years of sobriety. That was the highlight, because I was able to share in that recovery.
You know, I take that back. The biggest highlight of my life was reuniting with my mother. She had left me at my grandmother's at the age of five because she was deep in her drug addiction. So, at the age of 43, 44, she finally got her life together, and that's when we reunited.
If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
To be a multimillionaire!
|PRECIOUS'S POST-DIAGNOSIS MEDICAL HISTORY|
|CD4+ Count (May 2008): 533 Viral Load (May 2008): Undetectable|
|Medications, Side Effects and Illnesses (chronologically)|
|1998: Year of diagnosis -- started HIV meds|
|2001-2006: Went off meds due to high CD4 count and low viral load|
|December 2006: Got back on meds -- Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) + Videx-EC (didanosine, ddI) + Reyataz (atazanavir) + Norvir (ritonavir)|
|October 2007: Regimen caused kidney enzymes to elevate -- got back off meds|
|March 2008: Got on current regimen -- Reyataz + Norvir + Isentress (MK-0518, raltegravir) -- which is working fine so far
Updated May 2008
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