I have been positive for 28 to 30 years. We have come far over these years and we still have a long way to go. Back in the day, the jobs we had couldn’t afford the meds we needed, many of the studies on HIV were only for men, we couldn’t use regular doctors because they didn’t know how to treat us, we were limited to where we could travel, everything was different. And our children were born positive. In America this is no longer true, this is blessing. We have seen a change happen. We were glorious back then and still are. We carried the mantle for the women everywhere and we still do. We went on the walks and were trying to make a change. But, the community forgot about HIV and women. Between the economy and other diseases taking front and center, HIV and women especially were put on the backburner. Today, we need to pick up our mantle and carry it wherever we go to wake up our State once again.
If I had a t-shirt saying ‘I was there when it happened. I am HIV positive and I’m still here. Will you walk with me?’ (in purple letters on a white t-shirt), I’d wear it! That’s my mantle, I am not ashamed. I am grateful to be alive and to be chosen. To carry this burden and pass it to God to pray for my sisters and still rejoice over their lives if they have lost them to AIDS.
And today there is still a stigma. We have been positive over half our lives and you’d think it would be gone, but it’s not. But, because of stigma, I know who my real friends are, who my BABES are. But the bad parts of stigma, I stand in the face of and fight to see it changed. Stigma can be a good thing because each time we are stigmatized it can make us stronger, it makes me know that I am worth fighting for because I love myself and will not allow it to continue.
I want to dedicate this article to the new face of AIDS, to the ladies I love you always, and to our sisters and brothers who gave their lives for my survival and for the cure. And to Dori in heaven, you are my angel. And this is to all my BABES and those who have been BABEified, wherever you are at in the world. And I want to give all the glory to my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, my King, AMEN!