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Maria T. Mejia

Time to Show My Face and Take the Stigma Away


Remembering Ryan White and Thoughts on Milton Hershey School
December 7, 2011

Today I am remembering one of my biggest inspirations and warriors! Ryan White. He is an angel and someone who has inspired me to fight for injustice. He just wanted to go to school and fought for it when he was discriminated against for having HIV. It is incredible to me that we are 30 years into this illness and the Milton Hershey School is not letting a young boy go to school because of his condition.

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World AIDS Day (My Thoughts)
November 23, 2011

World AIDS Day has become one of the most recognized international health days, and a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

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When Our Lab Results Are Not Normal
October 13, 2011

Well, my latest lab work showed that my ALT and AST levels are a little up! This has to do with my liver enzymes. When I received the news and read my lab work and saw that my enzymes were up, I freaked out! I mean I really got unbalanced and very anxious and nervous! We, as HIV positive people, always have to go through this every time we get our blood work done! I have been through this for 20 years and as the years pass and more of the meds are in our system, actually it is a scarier feeling for me!

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Prevention of Fat Loss and Lipoatrophy of the Face
October 3, 2011

Yes, many people are very afraid to start their HIV medications because of lipoatrophy or lipodistrophy (fat loss or gaining fat in some areas). Well there are many options now. One of the most important parts of a person's body is their face. This is like the cover of a magazine, and how we represent ourselves! Many people feel very depressed because they lose fat in their face and become stigmatized by it! Although medication is better today as it was 20 years ago, I use Sculptra to prevent fat loss in my face. I see the pain in peoples' eyes when they suffer from this. It makes them very depressed and makes them want to hide! Once they get their face back, I see them thriving, working, loving everything.

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My Story With Medication
August 17, 2011

I've been HIV positive for 20 years, 10 of them without any HIV meds; and for the last 10 years I have been on HIV medication. If I could go back 20 years, I wouldn't change a thing. I really believe (and this is only my opinion) that not taking the high dosages of AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine) that were offered 20 years ago saved my life.

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Not Everyone Is an Activist (and Updates on My New Regimen of Atripla)
July 8, 2011

YES! Not everyone is an activist! And we must respect this ... not all people are prepared to come out of their HIV closet because others want them to. They are not less than anyone -- many of them are still dealing with the shame that comes with the illness. Or they are trying to protect their family members -- especially when there is so much ignorance and stigma with HIV/AIDS. We have to respect other peoples' choices and views. We are their role models ... so if we have it in us to be activists and advocate, let us do that for those that don't feel prepared or ready yet. Or maybe they will never be. And it's not because they don't want to fight for the cause.

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Discrimination and Stigma: These Are the Stories
June 13, 2011

I want to be the voices of those that have been discriminated for living with HIV/AIDS or for supporting us! There are stories of people from all over the world that wrote me in my international group for people with HIV/AIDS, and the people who love us on Facebook. The stories moved me and I had to tell them. It is very sad most of the discrimination and stigma comes from our own families and loved ones. WE MUST END STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION! 30 years with HIV/AIDS and the stigma is stronger than ever! HATE! IGNORANCE! How do we fight them??? With EDUCATION. I really believe that by telling our stories and showing our faces we can end this together. I also know that people live in fear of being discriminated and hide. Not everyone is ready to come out of the HIV CLOSET! So we are here for those who DO NOT have a voice. Please we must have Love and Compassion in our hearts. We fear the unknown! Please stop the ignorance. Once again I want to thank all the people that wrote me telling me their very deep stories that broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. WE ARE ONE!

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PRIDE, From a Proud HIV-Positive Lesbian
June 1, 2011

I have pride and I am a proud HIV- positive lesbian female. Coming from an ultraconservative Hispanic family, it was a very hard step for me to deal with many issues in my life and be able to speak about them -- or "come out," as they say. I was very confused when I was young -- being sexually abused at the tender age of 3; having someone that was supposed to take care of me, a family member, take away my innocence -- I learned to block things and keep things inside. I never thought I would end up in love and married to a woman! We have been together for four years and she is my everything -- my true soulmate.

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New Regimen of Meds, and My Comments on My Speech on the Doctor/Patient Relationship
May 27, 2011

The big part your doctor plays in your life! It's like a marriage ... if there is no communication or respect, there will be a divorce! Or a person being less adherent to their HIV medications. I tried to tell them how we feel as patients! We have to be proactive with our illness. Ask for tests, even if your doc does not ask for it! Like vitamin D! I was vitamin D deficient and I didn't know ... and if I would have never asked, I would not have known! We have to respect our doctors and they should encourage their patients to research and investigate.

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To Take or Not to Take Your Meds
May 16, 2011

I want to start by saying I am not a doctor or a scientist! I speak from my own experience as many of you know! I have been positive for 20 years, and I decided not to be on medication for the first 10 years and talk about it in my vblog ... for ten years I did everything I could to be off meds! Everything holistic you can think of! We have to realize that everyone has their moment when they make the choice to go on meds ... Your body will feel it! I wouldn't dare tell someone to get off medication as some of this movement of dissidents/denialists tell people! Not only do they tell people this ... but especially vulnerable and newly diagnosed ... and also to those that are so confused! In all reality, I dont want to judge anyone, but this is a very dangerous situation...people are dying because they are listening to this propaganda that AIDS doesnt exist and that what actually will kill you is your HIV medication!

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This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
 
See Also
HIV & Me: A Guide to Living With HIV for Hispanics
The Body en Español
More Personal Accounts of HIV in the U.S. Latino Community

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Time to Show My Face and Take the Stigma Away


Maria T. Mejia

Maria T. Mejia

I am a 37-year-old Colombian female who lives in Miami, Florida. I've been positive for 20 years. Although almost all my life I've been in long-term relationships with HIV-negative men, I am happily married to a woman who is wonderful and caring. We have been together almost three years and she is HIV negative. I have no children but we will look into having! I am an activist, a peer educator, a caregiver. I volunteered for the Red Cross in education for the Hispanic HIV community and also the American community. I was a pre- and post-test counselor. I have spoken in many conferences and done a lot of outreach in the community, especially in the schools for prevention and education. It is part of my everyday life to educate everyone I can on this subject. Being HIV positive is nothing to be ashamed about! We are strong women, and we will take away all the stigmas slowly but we have to open up.

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Read more blogs by women living with HIV/AIDS at "A Girl Like Me"

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The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.


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