This Positive Life: An Interview With Esmeralda, Part Two
May 19, 2010
Where do you live now, and what's the community like around where you live?
I live in Oakland, California. It's a lot of difference kinds of people. Where I live is around a lot of Latino people, Chinese people, black people. It's mixed. It's great to meet every type of person. And I work around people of many different nationalities. You learn a lot. The community where I live has everything -- it has bad and good things, but I always look at the good things.
Can you talk a little bit about your work in Latino communities, and what you think are some of the most important issues that you face in your work that need to be fixed in the Latino community in the U.S.?
We need to teach the women about HIV and how to look after themselves. With Latina women, it's not easy. Sometimes they have legal problems, immigration problems, domestic violence. We need to work around these issues and work with them on how to take care of themselves. Many of them don't speak English. It's hard to find a doctor who speaks their language. That makes it a little bit hard for them -- the language, the culture and all that. I have to work around that. But it's great. I talk to them and show I came out from there and they can be fine and they can be themselves and they can be independent.
To me, it's a great opportunity I have to work with Latinas and help them. One time somebody helped me, and I took it really, really seriously. I take my job really seriously, to help depending on the needs of each person.
How do you think HIV has changed you personally?
I think it makes you more conscious. If I didn't become HIV positive, I think I'd be like anybody else on the street, never learning about HIV, never being aware of it. I never knew anything about it before.
I have a really young client who was just diagnosed about six months ago. She says to me the other day, "You know, now that I'm positive, I see everything. I saw these flyers on the buses and the advertisements on the TV that say, 'Take care of yourself.' I never saw those before. They were always there and I never noticed them."
"If you are positive, live a positive life and live a good life. If you are negative, please take care of yourself and educate yourself and don't become positive."
I think that would've happened to me as well. I'd probably have prejudices like somebody else, because I never would have known what is. I'd probably never have been informed about it. I'm living it right now and I know everything about it. I know what it is. I know how it affects you, how you get it. And before, I never knew this. Nobody told me anything about it. So if I'd never become positive, I'd probably be just ignorant about HIV as anybody else in the street.
Do you have anything else that you want those reading your story to know?
I just want to say, if you are positive, live a positive life and live a good life. If you are negative, please take care of yourself and educate yourself and don't become positive.
Thank you so much. With that we can wrap up this interview, but it's wonderful to speak with you again. Best of luck with everything, and your new baby and your work!
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
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