How far I’ve come in 14 years

Claretha in 2007 during a Positive Dreams rehersal


March 2010

By Claretha

When I first diagnosed 14 years ago, I was hurt, angry, and confused.  At the time, I thought that being HIV positive meant that I would die soon.  So, I turned to drugs and alcohol to forget about the pain I was feeling.  My family supported me from day one, but it was still so difficult.  I was taking my medication and the side effects were hard on body.  All around me friends and family were dying and it added to the pain that I already felt.  But, my mom, my kids, my grandkids, and BABES were what kept me going in the hard days.  It took me nearly 9 years to accept that I am HIV positive, but I know now that it’s not going any where and I need to take care of myself to stay healthy.  I have been clean and sober for 3 ½ years and I am very proud of it.  My medications have gotten better and I have no side effects.  I take my meds everyday and it helps me to stay strong and healthy.  Something I have learned over the years is to make sure that there is a support system around you.  There are doctors, counselors, social workers, and BABES that are all here to help.  Being able to accept the help they offer can change your life.

For everyone that is having unprotected sex:  stop now.  Go get tested, it only takes one person to get HIV; get condoms, they are free everywhere.  If you care, if you have family, do something about it.  Stop having unprotected sex, protect yourself, and protect your partner.

I’ve been positive for 14 years and I’m still here.  Healthy, free of drugs and alcohol, and I have the support I need.  You can get support too; don’t wait until it’s too late.