Newly Diagnosed With HIV, Jennifer Vaughan Rises to YouTube Prominence
Jennifer Vaughan and her family, as posted on her Facebook page (Credit: Jennifer Vaughan)
Behind the wheel of her car, Jennifer Vaughan spoke to the camera, finally having time to share her HIV story. She'd wanted to put it out there so people knew "what exactly happened to me." Now, alone in the car with her dog, the single mom of three had a rare moment to do so.
Four months and over 200,000 YouTube views later, Vaughan is the creator and host of a growing series of chatty, casual but information-packed videos demystifying HIV from the perspective of a newly diagnosed woman eager to offer support to others and speak up as an advocate. In her series description she explains:
I'm a 45-year-old single mother of 3 and on 2/15/16 I found out that I had HIV. This is my story about how I contracted it, how I survived AIDS and how I live my life today with HIV.
I originally put this video out for my Facebook friends; I had no idea it would get this kind of attention. Every day is a new adventure on this new journey of YouTube and my story. I'm excited to be alive, excited to take this ride and excited to take you all along with me.
In a later video, Vaughan checks in with her three kids -- ages 9, 13 and 16 -- about their experiences with a mom who was very ill, received an AIDS diagnosis, then regained her health and shared her story with others:
Today, ten months after her diagnosis, Vaughan has an undetectable viral load -- meaning she has extremely low levels of HIV in her body -- has an excellent prognosis for staying healthy and cannot pass on HIV to others.
Not surprisingly, she took to YouTube to share the good news and educate viewers on HIV lab testing and treatment. "It's almost Christmas and I got my gift," she concludes about becoming undetectable in a year that brought many challenges.
JD Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.