HIV to New York Fashion Week

Submitted on Aug 15, 2023 by  JustineDD

Let me tell you how my HIV diagnosis led to me at New York Fashion Week.

I attended my routine check-up as usual. I was triaged and after being placed in the exam room, my doctor asked to speak with my mother alone in another room. My mother returned to the room in tears and I could not figure out why. My doctor let me know that I was born with HIV. She asked me if I knew what that meant. I had taken a health class a year before and knew exactly what she was saying to me. My doctor explained I was healthy and had been undetectable. She stressed the fact that my mother was trying to protect me from the judgment of others and not to blame her for not telling me sooner. Although I was in complete shock, I wanted to stay strong for my mother. I could tell she was having a hard time and was not ready to disclose it to me.

At one of the hardest times of my life, my care team was super supportive. My social worker Judy was great at offering opportunities for me to better myself. Even though I was over the age limit, Judy was able to get me linked to Make-A-Wish Foundation. One of my wishes was to meet Kimora Lee Simmons who was a famous model and fashion designer of Baby Phat clothing line. The representative from Make-A-Wish, Norma, let me know they would try to set up a meeting with her but nothing was guaranteed. It just so happened that the Make-A-Wish office was next door to Baby Phat headquarters. My wish turned from a meet and greet to backstage passes to New York's Fashion Week and runway show.

One of the best moments of my life: Norma, my mother, and I were picked up in a limousine in front of my apartment building. I brought my sketchbook with me to show Kimora my designs. Drawing was not my specialty back then but I had to shoot my shot. Not only did I meet Kimora but I met her husband, Russell Simmons, and her two daughters. They gave me inspirational words to continue to work hard toward my dream of fashion. Before the runway show, I had the pleasure of meeting R&B singer Mya, Mr. Jay, and Mrs. Jay, judges from America's Next Top Model. You could not tell me I wasn't a celebrity that night. Norma made sure she captured all my pictures and autographs. I was able to see the setup of a fashion show and the end product. I really thank Judy and Norma for creating this moment I had only seen on television. Norma made sure to develop all the pictures and created a photo album of this great night.

I honestly have to thank my care team for creating this moment for me. Judy did not have to go the extra mile to make sure I was able to get this wish. Shout to Norma for making this experience possible. It's because of my diagnosis I was able to have this opportunity. You will be amazed at how you can shape someone's life for the better.


Justine Davenport and logo for A Girl Like Me.

Submitted by JustineDD

It really was. Just imagine being a teen finding out the worst news to the best news because of HIV. It really contributed to the way I treat people. 

Submitted by Destiny1995

Thank you for sharing this amazing experience. I believe that GOD always works in mysterious ways and this was his way of showing you that yes you are living with this virus but you can still live your dreams. Sending you lots of love. :)

JustineDD 's recent blog posts


Members of The Well Project community at USCHA 2022.

Become a Member

Join our community and become a member to find support and connect to other women living with HIV.

Join now >


Do you get our newsletter?

¿Recibe nuestro boletín?

Sign up for our monthly Newsletter and get the latest info in your inbox.

Suscríbase a nuestro boletín mensual y reciba la información más reciente en su bandeja de entrada.

Browse Blogs by Theme

Recent Blog Posts

Our Bloggers