James Nicacio, Selma, Calif., diagnosed in October 2001
I know my biggest fear was telling my mother. My mother and my sisters are the ones who have been so close to me.
They're my support system. They always want the best for me, so it was really difficult for me to tell them. But when I did, it felt like a big relief. I felt like, in some way, I was letting them down. Here I am trying to tell my mother -- the person who gave me life -- that, because of some of the bad choices and bad mistakes that I made in the past, my life might be taken. In a way, taking life for granted.
They were the only people that I really cared about telling. I didn't mind if anyone else knew, but I really cared that my family knew. But once I did tell them, and they said that they loved me no matter what, and that they were going to support me and give me every opportunity to take care of myself. Once I knew I had their support, then I could move forward.
Do you remember how you started that conversation with your sister and your mother?
I don't remember that conversation too well, but I think I do remember my sisters crying. I'm sure that they were very afraid for me. We didn't know anything about HIV, I guess you could say, other than what is said in the media: that once people get HIV, they get AIDS and they die. I remember them being really sad and really afraid, but the particular conversation I don't remember exactly what was said. I just know that at that time, they were my support system.
How are your relationships with your mother and your sisters now?
They're excellent. It's kind of weird to say, but since I've been diagnosed with HIV, my life has become so much better. It's better than it ever was before. Today, I'm able to live a clean, sober life. I have direction and I have the love and support of my family. They're very accepting and very encouraging. They give me every opportunity they can to do as much volunteering and outreach and education that I can. They're very supportive. My relationship is wonderful with them.