According to HIV.gov, 1 in 7 people are living with HIV and are unaware of their condition.
Do You Know Anyone Who Has This Condition?
My mother is that 1 out of 7. She found out she contracted HIV from her ex-boyfriend in 2009 when she went into a treatment facility.
Until this very day she would say that getting the news at that time and place was probably one of the best things that could have happened to her.
I can’t begin to tell you how it feels personally, but I have heard the story more times than I can count and my heart breaks for my mother every time I think about it.
Being that she was already in a recovery program, she was surrounded by so much love and support. Plus there were professionals who were there to be able to walk her through processing and coping with the information in a non-self destructive way.
A Day I Will Never Forget
I was walking to Wendy’s with my cousin on 24th and McDowell (to all my Phoenix followers) and I received a phone call from my Mom. I was really excited about that because I hadn’t been able to talk to her as often as I liked while she was in her first 90 days of recovery.
When I heard her voice I knew something was wrong. She told me she was HIV positive and she was sure she had contracted it from her ex. She said she will be OK and it was important that we all began to educate ourselves on the disease.
From that moment on I began to read up on HIV and I believe that during my freshman year in college I did a research paper on it.
How I Felt
At first I was in complete shock. HIV/AIDS is something that you hear about on TV, but it’s not something that anyone you knew could have. But then at a moment’s notice, it was my Mother who had become a victim of it.
Before I could have a true emotional reaction, there was something that told me that she would be okay.
I soon learned that HIV is not the death sentence it used to be and if properly treated, people can live a long and healthy life with the disease.
This was true in my Mother’s case. She ended getting pregnant with my little brother while having HIV and he is now 9 years old; healthy and HIV negative.
My mother has multiple chronic conditions and HIV is the one that gives her the least problems. However, it does prevent her from being able to take certain medications that can treat her other conditions.
Why It’s Important To Educate Yourself
Whether you know someone with this condition or not, it’s important to educate yourself on HIV/AIDS. I remember when my Mom started telling our family, hoping to alert them and encourage them to get tested and start protecting themselves.
Some of them took it as a joke and as one more thing to gossip about. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I remember someone telling me that one of our relatives didn’t want their child eating after my mom because she had HIV.
I remember at the time I was so upset because I had done some research and I knew that you can’t contract HIV through saliva and it hurt to hear the ignorance that spread throughout my family.
I learned that everyone will react differently to the news and treat you differently, depending on how educated they are.
If Someone Tells You They Have HIV
After learning about my Mom, some years later I found out a very close friend of mine had contracted the disease. By the time he told me I was educated enough to offer my support and was able to share with him what information I knew.
If someone tells you that they are HIV positive and you are uneducated about it, tell them that and ask them if they would care to share with you what they know.
If they don’t want to share what they know or don’t know, there are numerous resources out there to help you learn more about the disease.
Know Your Status
It’s important that if you are not in a monogamous relationship, it’s recommended you get tested at least yearly. If there are trust issues in your monogamous relationship, I suggest you still get tested regularly.
There are locations that now do same day results and it’s FREE!
You have no excuse not to know.
Question of The Week
When was the last time you were tested for HIV?
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Listen to this episode on the Ny’s Growing Space Podcast