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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Paying It Forward

By Brooke Davidoff

January 20, 2011

I got an email from BABES (my Seattle HIV Female Support Group) in October asking if I would speak on World AIDS Day. In the financial havoc which is our government for some reason they are looking to cut funding for everything, anywhere. One of the items on the chopping block is HIV testing for pregnant women; seems I am a poster child for this being a BAD thing. Without hesitation I grabbed the reins. Excited, nervous, and proud. Had I not been tested by my doctor when I was 3 months pregnant, my son would have HIV. I would not be on meds, and my viral load and CD4 count would be more scary than they still are.

I was informed the media would be there, and fliers would have my name on it since I'm a blogger from I made the decision to come out as HIV positive to my office. I'm not a lesbian, I'm not gay, but wow, I can now sympathize with them on a certain level.

I made the decision to tell before people at work read about me in the local Seattle newspapers. An all-company email was sent out inviting co-workers to come out to World AIDS Day and watch me speak. I held my breath and waited to hear people's reactions around the office. Nothing. I waited for people to treat me differently. It never happened. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but nothing was not it.

I've never been one who was afraid to speak to people. I minored in theater. I've been on stage since I was in middle school. Crowds excite me! I LOVE them. The panel was small -- only six people total. Three people with HIV and three infectious disease doctors.

One hundred plus people showed up in Downtown Seattle at the YWCA for the event. It turned out to be standing room only. It was all question and answer, five prompted questions we were emailed the week before the event, and then it opened up to the audience.

I was surprised how many people with the disease have such limited knowledge of it. When I was diagnosed my free time became research time; I needed to find out as much as I could. I guess the problem with a lot of the information is it's super medical. Most people don't understand medical jargon and it turns them off. I don't want to feel stupid if I'm researching to become smarter. I can see the frustration people run into, and after asking so many questions they give up, and shut up. That's not okay with me.

I showed up to the event early. Random people in the audience talked to me about their health issues, asking me medical questions that I'm nowhere near medically educated enough to answer. "You should go see a doctor," I found myself saying to multiple people.

After the talking part of World AIDS Day, I was approached by a pharmacy, Mom's Pharmacy. Andrew ran me down and gave me his card. I just got my meds transferred to them for a lot less money than I had been paying to a normal drug store. Thank you Mom's Pharmacy. My co pays were totally out of hand last year; we actually got evicted from our apartment while I was pregnant, because of the price of my meds. But that's another blog in itself. My pills went from ridiculous to $5.00. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

I will be back to speak on World AIDS Day as long as they want me.

A few weeks later I got an email from my support group BABES saying that they had bags of gifts for Myles for Christmas. People had donated new toys, clothes, gift cards, and formula; they wanted Myles to have a great first Christmas. My husband Keanen, Myles and I went to get these gifts. We almost cried when we saw what people had bought for him. The compassion people have, for people they have never met, is amazing.

Myles got hundreds of dollars worth of new toys and clothing from strangers among us. The only way I can thank the donors is here. So THANK YOU. We were not expecting anything from anyone and you took our breath away.

Anything he doesn't fit into will be re-gifted; we will be paying it forward.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Angela (Mississippi) Tue., Apr. 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm UTC
Thank you for being the first person to feel like me. Ha i know that sounds funny, but my boyfriend and I were diagonosed Feb 2010. He has aids and I have HIV. The first thing I did is jump into research endless hours and i am still researching our conditions. I dont understand all the medical stuff, But I have increased my knowledge of HIV tremdously. I just wish i would have studied it before i was infected. Education is key to stopping this virus in the US and Heterosexual people need to face the fact that IT CAN Happen to them. Thanks for your articles and BE happy and healthy
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Comment by: Ashley N. (San Diego) Mon., Feb. 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm UTC
That is so wonderful that so many helped Myles have a wonderful Christmas. But always remember Brooke that you are amazing!!!!! You help people so much!!!!
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Comment by: Leslie (Australia) Thu., Feb. 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm UTC
In the basic core of us all..... kindness does exist...even in the hardest of us all. It is learning how to tap.
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Comment by: Andrew N. (Seattle, WA) Wed., Jan. 26, 2011 at 12:35 am UTC
You were an asset to the panel Brooke and I was happy I was there to hear your story. Thank you for speaking up. The more that those of us who are living with HIV speak up the more funding we get, more educated others get and hopefully the less this virus is spread. You're also an inspiration to women living with HIV who want to have children. I'm happy we were able to help out at MOMS and please let us know what else you need to remain healthy!
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Comment by: Haley Fletcher (Paraguay :)) Fri., Jan. 21, 2011 at 7:07 am UTC
I love it. I love your writing - your passion comes right through. Keep writing and speaking up. You are making the world a better place to be. Thank you so much for continuing to share your story.
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Comment by: Miriam Martin (Vancouver, BC) Thu., Jan. 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm UTC
Hey Brooke, what a cool experience, and so worth it even just to make the connection with Mom's Pharmacy! I'm wondering whether you've had a chance to connect with your co-workers about it ... are they being supportive? Do they show an interest in learning from you? How are you feeling about your "coming out" to them? Well, at least you know you have LOTS of support!
On behalf of the women at Positive Women's Network ( in Vancouver, Canada,
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Voice of ONE

Brooke Davidoff

Brooke Davidoff

Brooke grew up in San Diego, Calif., and from a young age she wanted to change the world with her words. She has been writing poetry since 1992, and majored in journalism in school.

She was diagnosed with AIDS when she was eleven weeks pregnant in her first year of marriage. She is now a single mother living in Long Beach, Calif.

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