Find inspiration in these first-person narratives from women living with HIV. In the personal profiles, exclusive columns, video testimonials and blog entries below, you can get firsthand knowledge about dating and sex, substance abuse, motherhood and pregnancy, gender oppression, disclosure, religion, self-esteem, social justice, growing older and much more.
For years, after she got HIV from her boyfriend during unprotected sex, Precious was angry and ashamed. When she finally sought out the support she needed, her life changed. Her recovery from co-dependency has allowed her to stay above water. Precious is currently in a committed relationship, and as an HIV advocate, she now helps other people adjust to living with HIV and fights for better medical care for HIV-positive African Americans, especially women.
For Jane Fowler, who describes herself as "the original 1950s good girl," HIV was something that happened to others. So when she tested positive at the age of 55, she was in shock. Within months of her diagnosis, she retired and became reclusive and withdrawn. But Jane is no longer hiding and started her own HIV organization for older women. She has been featured in countless magazines, radio broadcasts and television programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Lisa, a member of the Muscogee Nation, has experienced hardship in her life. Her father died when she was 2 ½, her brother and an adopted daughter were both murdered and her ex-boyfriend died from alcoholism. In addition to living with AIDS, she is also living with Parkinson's disease. Lisa, who was diagnosed in 1992, discusses why she became an HIV advocate, how exercise is her savior and the issues that Native Americans face that make them vulnerable to contracting HIV.
The Southern AIDS Living Quilt is a project that illustrates the growing impact of HIV on women in the southern U.S., particularly women of color. Using video testimonials, the Living Quilt shares the personal stories of women living with HIV, their families and health care providers throughout the region. The stories underscore the critical importance of making HIV screening a routine part of medical care in order to ensure earlier diagnosis and prevent the spread of the disease.
When Maria was diagnosed with HIV at 18, her mother said, "You will not die from this, but you will tell the family you have another disease." Now, after years of silence, this Miami resident is more than ready to open up to the world about living with HIV.
Brooke was diagnosed HIV positive in January 2010 -- two months married and 11 weeks pregnant with her first baby -- and has already begun to educate others about HIV.