My name is Elaine Henderson. I am a 39 year old HIV positive woman from Cleveland, Ohio. I was diagnosed in April 2008. I am a contract worker for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. I am an HIV/AIDS educator and advocate.
I live openly with my status thanks in part to a wonderful support system (all of my family, friends, case workers, and co-workers). They give me the encouragement to move forward and God gives me the strength.
The first person I told I was positive was my mother who lives in Chicago. If I had to pick out the most important words anyone has ever said to me that helped get me to this point it would be these words that she said that first day “No matter who you tell or when you decide to tell them, if they have a problem with it, it’s their problem.” Those words made me realize early on that what other people thought about me being HIV positive didn’t matter. I had to take care of myself and live the best life I possibly could. With the help of my Early Intervention Case Manager that is what I set out to do.
Elaine on why she wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me: Living with HIV is the hardest journey I have ever taken in my life. I mean truly living. I’m talking about dating, working, going to church and all of the things that living consists of. But, it can be done. I want others like me to know that being HIV positive is not a curse, it’s not a sin, and it is not punishment for any action. I want women to move past their diagnosis and live with HIV as just another part of life and know that they are not alone.