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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
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Raven Lopez

January 2006

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Disclosure, Relationships and Sex

How have your relationships with family and friends changed since you were diagnosed?

OK, well, my family is excellent. No matter what, they love me. You know, I'm their niece, I'm their granddaughter. Nothing has changed. With my friends ... yes, I lost a couple of friends in school. But that was in elementary school -- now I'm in high school and I have all of my friends. When I was in junior high, when I was growing up, yes ... people used to make fun of me. Now that I have grown older, I know how to deal with it and stuff like that.

How do you decide whether or not to disclose your HIV status to someone?

If I see that you're very close and you're nice and you're not the type of person that will tell everybody, "Listen, that girl has the monster," I will probably pull you to the side and tell you up front, like, "Let me tell you one thing right now. I'm HIV positive and either you want to be my friend or not." But some of my friends, they are like, "Oh, Raven, you are just saying that to make me feel sad for you." And I'm like, "No, it's really true." So I'll bring in a POZ magazine, and they will see for themselves and be like, "Oh, wow," and they get emotional and all that kind of stuff.

How safe do you feel telling people about it?

Um, I do be scared, because I don't know how they're going to react. Like, suppose I be thinking that they will be like, "Uh, Raven, get out of here. We don't want to be your friend no more." And I think that it will go around the school. But then again, I know how to deal with stuff like that now.

What is the best response you have ever gotten from telling someone?

All of my friends that I told, they all got emotional and they all started crying. But all of them, they said, "No matter what, Raven, we will still love you and you will always be our friend."

What is the worst response to telling someone?

Oh, when I was in Catholic school, one of my teachers asked my mother if they had to wear rubber gloves in class. And kids used to make fun of me. One time a girl said, "You can't sit on that chair, 'cause we are going to catch it through your clothes." It used to be so much drama that I couldn't take it no more, and that's why I had to leave Catholic school.

Where do you go for support?

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I get support from my friends, my family ... from everybody. Like when I'm down or depressed or whatever, all my friends -- they always have my back. They're like, "Listen, Raven, we understand." I have a loving family and friends.

How does your church address HIV?

Our pastor, she's a lady. When I first told her ... well, it was my mom that told her ... she took it OK. She started praying for us and stuff, because at that time I was dealing with a little sickness. So, you know, she prayed and did spiritual baths for us and stuff like that.

Do you feel accepted as a person with HIV there?

Yes, they were very supportive.

How has dating been for you?

Well, I just got over one not too long ago ... last year. I disclosed that I was HIV positive to my boyfriend. At first, he had a suspicion because I told him how my mother got it. He used to always ask me, "Raven, do you have it?" And I always used to tell him no, because I did not want to lose him. But on New Year's night -- not the New Year's that just passed, but last year -- he came to my house and I told him. And it was like all of the emotions just came out of him. He started crying, I started crying. And like, he was scared that he had it at first. But my mother told him that he won't have it because, you know, this and that. And, yes, we did have sexual intercourse, but we used protection. But ... it was a lot of stuff that was going on between me and him, not just because of [HIV]. He didn't really know what to do with himself, so I said, "Whenever you're ready to come back in, you can come back." But right now he's dating another girl, so, I don't know. That's it.

Have you faced much rejection from potential partners?

No, not really. All of my partners that I go out with now, I tell them from the beginning. I tell them, "Hey, I'm HIV positive. Either you want to be with me or not." And sometimes they don't believe me. They be like, "Raven, you're lying. You just don't want to be with me." And I tell them the truth like, "Seriously, yes I am."

Do you have a policy about if or when you tell a potential boyfriend that you are positive?

No, because I will never go out with another boy at my school. Everybody in my school ... once you do something or go out with somebody, the whole entire school knows. I didn't think that he [former boyfriend] would do something like that, because he always told me, "No matter what, Raven, even if we hate each other, I would never disclose your business to someone else."

Was he older or the same age?

No, older. I was 14 ... he was 17.

How do you tell someone who you want to date that you're HIV positive?

I sit down and talk to them. I always ask them, "If you had a girlfriend that you really loved and then she told you that she had HIV, what would you do?" And at first, I hear how they act, like, "Oh, I wouldn't go out with her ... I wouldn't talk to her." And I'm like, "All right ... I know not to tell this person." And sometimes they are like, "Oh, if I really love her, I would stay with her." So then, right there I know that I could tell him -- and that's when I tell him.

Do you feel that if you practice safe sex, it is necessary to tell a sex partner that you are positive?

Yes. Because, God forbid, if something happens and he finds out before you even tell him ... So I think you should tell him.

Resolutions, Adventures and Wishes

Did you make any New Year's resolutions?

To pass all of my classes and to get out of school.

What's the biggest adventure you've ever had?

Wow! My biggest adventure I ever had was when my mother called me and told me that I am one of the Millennium Dreamers that McDonald's has. If you are a Millennium Dreamer, you are offered a trip to Disney World for like five days. She told me, "Raven, you're one of the Millennium Dreamers." And I was like, "Oh my goodness!" I was so happy. I was packing all of my stuff already. And I met Christopher Reeve. And I was like, "Oh, that's Superman!" I was so happy. I couldn't believe it.

When was that?

This was in 2000, I think.

If you were granted one wish, what would it be?

Um ... let me see ... my main thing right now is just to find a cure for this disease.

What books, movies, music or TV shows have had a big influence on you?

I like That's So Raven. I like The Parkers. I like One on One. Books? I like to read books with drugs ... where there is money, sex and all that kind of stuff. I like the movies Selena, Honey, Love and Basketball, and I like that movie Space Jam for little kids. I get into little kids' movies a lot, too! I like Finding Nemo. I like Cinderella. I like hip-hop, reggae ... any kind of music! I'm a Ja Rule fan. I don't like 50 Cent for nothing. But my husband is Li'l Romeo!

Is there anything else you'd like The Body's readers to know about you?

I'm a very cool person ... really nice. And I'm a loving person. I'm caring.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: jaylyn (memphis,tn) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm EST
your so strong hold on you can do it
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Comment by: kendra (virgina,virginia) Thu., Aug. 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm EDT
Hello raven my name is kendra um i really dont know how to say this but im going through the same thing as you are and i read your story and you are so strong!!! like i found out when i was 14 years old that i was postive and i didnt know and still dont know how to handel it and be as strong as you are. i was born with this condition and i look at life like im ready to go. im the second child out of 4 kids and im the only one that is postive??? when i found out i talked to my mother about the situation and its like she dont want to come to grips with it?she wont talk to to me how i got it or nothing its like unreal to her.i dont have any hope im always angry but when i read your story i knew there was some hope for me and i want to say thank you where i live in va don't have a support group and if they did wouldnt nobody show up because they are ashamed:( i just want you to know what should i do to come to grips that im postive, because somedays are harder then the rest and i just want to give up this race that im running and when those days get unbearable i dont take my meds and i do awhole 360 down hill and i know thats not good.i want and need a postive person around me that i can talk too that really understands what im going through, because no matter what cant nobody unless u going though it urself can ever understand what u going through!
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Comment by: jaylyn t (memphis,tn) Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm EST
i am only 10 years old and i wanted to get more information about your disease reading your story gives me information and makes me fill so sorry for you but you story inspired me to protect my self thank you jaylyn


Comment by: Andy (Tampa, FL) Thu., Feb. 3, 2011 at 3:23 am EST
Raven your story is very extra ordinary! I know how you feel when you wake up and have to take those pills......My advice to you is to keep fighting and living each day like you're doing right now. Remember the good lord doesn't give us nothing we can't handle. Take care of your self :)
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Comment by: KENYATTA (MIAMI, FLORIDA) Thu., Dec. 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm EST
RAVEN KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND DON'T NO ONE MAKE YOU FEEL LESS... GOD LOVES YOU AND STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF. I KNOW THE FEELING IT'S A HARD PILL TO SWOLLOW AND SOMETIMES IT ROUGH BUT GOD WILL PULL YOU THROUGH.. BE BLESSED
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Comment by: juanita (johannesburg rsa) Sun., Nov. 7, 2010 at 3:36 pm EST
hey raven just want to know how u doing because i see your story is updated in 2008..God has sent u my way im busy adopting a black baby girl from zimbabwe in africa she is now 18months and we tested her 2 weeks ago the results came back positive. u gave us so much hope uve grown into a beautiful teenager what a blessing!
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Comment by: regina (Joahnnesburg. SA) Sun., Sep. 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm EDT
I am really inspired. If only i have the courage like yours i would have changed million hearts. keep on doing the Good Work. May God give you more years and fufill your dreams.
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Comment by: regina (Joahnnesburg SA) Sun., Sep. 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm EDT
I am really inspired. If only i have the courage like yours i would have changed million hearts. keep on doing the Good Work. May God give you more years and fufill your dreams.
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Comment by: Rose (Nairobi,Kenya) Wed., Jun. 16, 2010 at 8:23 am EDT
Gal,may God satisfy you with long life.(Psalms 91:16)My nieces aged 17 and 10 were born with HIV,their mom died in 2003 but their dad has continued to support them.Enjoy your youth and take care.
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Comment by: ladyee (new jersey) Fri., Jun. 4, 2010 at 12:57 am EDT
I just found out that my son is HIV+. I was at a lost and was trying to be brave and supportive for him. I'm angry and depressed for I feel he doesn't deserve this. Your sharing has helped me tremendously. I thank you for being the brave young lady you are. I hope that my son and I can do as your mother states, "do what you have to do." Again thank you!!!
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Comment by: Kyandra Findlay (Brooklyn) Tue., Jan. 12, 2010 at 11:42 pm EST
Raven this is KiKi we use to go to yabc together u culd have told me im not the type i didnt even know reading ur story i was shocked but it doesnt matter u are a human bein u have the right of living your life forget everybodys negativity god gave u a gift thats life and i want u to know im here for u as a friend if u need me just like i was in YABC
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Comment by: keya (seattle, WA) Thu., Nov. 12, 2009 at 1:16 am EST
Hi, Raven. Thank you for sharing. I'm a black women born with it, as well. You are so brave. Right now, I am attending college. Well, it was hard for me growing up and relizig my strenghth with allot of negativity regarding my complex of idenity. I really thought your story was moving and how you were honest. I am now realzing that I shouldn't let HIV control me, my mother does not want me to disculse with other people but in order to heal I have to share my story with people.. still a battle, people be saying harsh stuff sometimes... but I do share when I feel safe (very rare) In regards to relationship, thank you for sharing, for me, I never really had a serous romantic relationship because of the fear of rejection and the emotinal distress of infecting people and would just feel horible. Well, as of now I am working on a paper about the impact hiv and aids has on lesbian, gay, men and women of color in partner relationships for enlish. Well, I hope all is well. Thank you for sharing, keya. Well, here is my email if you want to contact me nightriderindahood@yahoo.com Thank you for your story and soon one day I will have the courage to speak my story in public like this ;) thanx sista!
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Comment by: jay (columbia,sc) Tue., Aug. 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm EDT
hey raven..your story really lifted me. i'm 18 and just found out i'm preliminarily positive. i broke down cause i didn't know how to tell my family and friends. reading your story really really relieved me. you are an inspiration.
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Comment by: blanche (haiti) Tue., Jun. 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm EDT
u r a so very strong young lady,i did the same thing too ,but sometimes it brings tears in my eyes because still humanity don't know the true meaning of love...They be with u when u r ok, but the goes down...Most of the time, the guy whom i run away when i tell them about my situation but the one who really wants me is married but there is nothing i can do for him. we just become the best friends ever.
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Comment by: Shayleah Thanars (Houston,Tx) Mon., Jun. 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm EDT
I don't know you but I feel like I do from reading your profile. I think you're so brave, beautiful, and smart and my heart and prayers goes out to you. I wish I could hug you now. Although I do not have the virus, I can say you are a strong woman and I commend you 100% precent. When I found out I had HERPES and I would have it for the rest of my life I was devastated. I am so proud of you. I would like to write you via email but i'll let you decide if you want to become friends. My e mail is thanarsshayleah@yahoo.com. I gotta go, but my heart goes out to you and your family. I hope to hear from you.
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Comment by: Crystal (Newyork) Wed., May. 13, 2009 at 11:48 pm EDT
I respect your courage to just come out and just tell people that you are HIV positive and always rember god is always on your side... And alwaYs continue to inform and educate the Ignorant and those who want to learn more...
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Comment by: stephanie sawyer (jacksonville,fl) Fri., Apr. 17, 2009 at 11:02 pm EDT
continue to be the strong,brave angel that God put in this world. you were created for that purpose to be a light for so many other people. God loves you and so do I. REMEMBER GOD HAS SO MUCH TO GIVE YOU BECAUSE YOURE GIVING SO MUCH BACK. RAVEN MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS STEPHANIE-39@LIVE.COM WRITE ME LOVE TO TALK TO YOU.
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Comment by: Ty Queena Johnson (Brooklyn, N.Y) Sun., Apr. 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm EDT
Owow!!! that's a very touch'n story. it's good 2 hear a young person talk about things like that. it inspires people to go get tested and to ask their partner questions and to get them tested...You are a strong girl you...You have been through so much and you are still strong. that's good...Your story really touched me and brought a tear to my eye cause I have a friend in the same situation as you and I always let her know no matter what she gonna always be my friend and I'll love her when no one else will
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Comment by: I (seattle) Thu., Apr. 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm EDT
Raven u are a very strong girl i am sure God is with u all the time! Take care o your self
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Comment by: Lilli (Florence,ORegon) Thu., Feb. 5, 2009 at 4:37 pm EST
Raven i think your a truly amazing person and that your story will really help a lot of people out there who are struggling. It's good to hear such a positive story.
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Comment by: amerah (SAUDI ARABIA) Mon., Feb. 2, 2009 at 1:16 am EST
U CAN DO IT!!!!!
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Comment by: wanda inman (winter haven ,fl) Thu., Jan. 22, 2009 at 10:49 am EST
Raven, I think you are a very brave and courageous young adult lady to even come forth and share your story. Many young women of your age bracket will keep something like that to themselves and continue to spread "The Monster". I really admire you. To me you are focused and have the right people in your life for moral support. Most of all, Thank God, we have people who are educated on this stuff to keep it under control and manageable to live your life to the fullest. e-mail at midnitei@yahoo.com Keep looking up to hills.
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Comment by: LEILA (MOMBASA, KENYA) Wed., Jan. 21, 2009 at 7:43 am EST
it's not her wish to be born like that, take courage and God is with u and with God everything is possible.
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Comment by: Mobe Kgatla (South Africa) Wed., Jan. 21, 2009 at 6:45 am EST
Gal. Your story blew me over. I read your mother's story first then yours. You are such a courageous young gal but you know what, You are a start. Mxwa
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Comment by: trinidadian Girl (trinidad) Tue., Dec. 30, 2008 at 11:10 am EST
I'm a Trinidadian, i would like to know her link to trinidad though. I think that she is a courageous girl and i am pround of her stringth. However being HIV negative,I would like to be informed if I intent to have a sexual realtionship with someone if they are HIV positive. It is unfair to take that decision away from some who is negative. As a HIV negative person i want to decide for my self if i am willing to take the risk. Suppose the condom broke! I could only imagine how that poor guy felt when he was told because its only human that you would feel scared until you are tested and retested to be sure thats six months of distress that could of been avoided.
And to be honest being 14 is wayyyyyyy to young to be engaging in sexual activity, that is not acceptable in Trinidad.
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Comment by: Raven (bk) Tue., Nov. 11, 2008 at 2:38 pm EST
Thanks, everybody.
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Comment by: Mia Roman Hernandez (New York City) Wed., Aug. 27, 2008 at 12:17 pm EDT
I love this website. I am an advocate for healthy and longer living for the youth. I try to incorporate the arts in everything i do and ahs proven to be quite successful with the youth community. I am having a YOuth AIDS awareness event in NYC on October 11th 2008 and would like to know how i can connect with some of the youth that are listed on this site. I would like to personally invite them to my event and hopefully participate as guest speakers or performers. If they are poets we will have poetry, if they are artists we have art, if they are public advocate speakers the stage is theirs. I am looking for this event to be a fun filled event with a focus on awarenes and prevention. I have a FREE HIV testing van on site, pamphlets, guest speakers, etc. I am hoping to get the youth to be involved and be the leaders to their peers. Lets spread the word together instead of the virus.
my contact e-mail is artbymamamia@yahoo.com
I can send a proposal and more info for anyone intersted.
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