Let me start off by thanking God for being able to write down my story and making me stronger in this time. I think it's important for people to know why some babies are still being born with HIV.
I didn't even know I was pregnant until I was about three months along. I was in a situation where I was being abused. In order to stay where I was staying, I had to have sex with the man who lived there. He drank heavily and hit me several times. Sometimes, he would lock me in closet. It was terrible but I had nowhere else to go.
I was staying with my sister before that but she had so many problems that I couldn't stay there anymore. So this man who was just a friend told me he was going to get a place and I could stay there. But I didn't know he expected me to have sex with him. If I wouldn't have sex with him, he would throw out my clothes and put me out on the street.
I was drugging all the time. I wouldn't eat or even take a shower. I would just stay out all night long. I knew I was pregnant, but I never went to the doctor. I was afraid of going out to the "real world" because I was drugging so bad. Every penny I got went to buying cocaine. I never thought about going to the clinic to get prenatal care.
My sister got me prenatal vitamins and iron and I was taking them. I was trying to do the right thing for my baby. I finally went back to my sister's house and asked her if I could stay with her, because I knew I couldn't take any more abuse from the man I was living with.
One day, I went to the bathroom and there was something coming out of my vagina. My water had broke and my baby was starting to come. It wasn't time yet for her to be born, but I was in labor already. My sister called an ambulance and they took me to Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. It was the first time I had gotten any medical care in months. Before that, I just wasn't able to.
I had my baby, and after that the doctor and nurse came in the room and told me I was HIV positive and my baby was, too. I felt like everything was over for me. I didn't have a place to raise my baby, but I didn't want to let her go.
They told me about the HIV clinic and gave me a booklet with a whole lot of numbers. I was so down and out I just didn't want to go through all that. I couldn't face it. In the next couple days, I told them I wanted to make an adoption plan for my daughter and signed all the paperwork. Lord knows it took a lot but I did believe I did what was best. I was discharged and went back to my sister's house.
I visited my baby a few times because she had to stay in the hospital since she was premature. I never went to the clinic for myself. It was just like I was running away from everything and I didn't want to hear anything. The drugs were taking over my life.
I finally stopped the drugs and was living in Baker with another friend. He was really good to me and was right by my side trying to help me. I got really sick and had lost about 50 pounds. I screamed to God, "Help me! Help me!" I was admitted to Lane Hospital and they helped me get into an assisted living residence for people who need support due to HIV. They've helped me get on my feet with different programs.
I finally got the help I asked the Lord for and my life has changed dramatically. I am eating well, praying well, making all my appointments, taking my medicine, and I have a life I never thought I could have being HIV positive. My life is getting better each day. I strive for more. HIV changed my whole life and my way of thinking, so now I seek counseling when I need it. I'm even getting my GED .
I want other women in my situation to know that there is hope and there are people out there who will help you. Don't give up. Be strong. Don't quit. There is a life as long as you do the work. HIV is not the way people say it is. If you take your medicine, there is hope. Keep going to your appointments and taking your medicine. If you have sex, make sure you have safe sex.
I reached out to other people and God let me know that I was not alone.