Growing up in the hood in South West Atlanta was one of the hard things for me, especially being HIV-positive. It truly wasn’t the best example of role models to teach me how to care for this disease or this infection that my mom so-called left me. Losing her couldn’t explain the pain that it left me having to deal with, let alone trying to cope and fit in with society. I’m like, I’m perinatal Infected with HIV, no one will ever love me, they will always judge, plus I’m always sick, so there’s really no hope for little ole Derinthia. Until one day I finally woke up and said, I am more than enough. Hell, I am just enough. I was actually born for this - to be an inspiration to others. As I began this walk of acceptance, I finally realized God has always had a plan. This is a stepping stone, this that thorn in my flesh to know his grace would be sufficient enough to keep me.
Once I realized that HIV doesn’t define me, I can define it, I began to walk in it. Being the voice for the voiceless. I am honestly grateful because there are others that possibly feel or felt the same way I did. I’m just here to say you’re not alone. I realize I wasn’t no help to no one by not speaking. Let me say when I did start, I was able to be picked as one of the Youth HIV Policy Advisors for Georgia Equality and opened up a youth organization Matter Over Mind: Chains for Change, helping others to never let their circumstance/infection define them. There have been several challenges that I had to face just to get to where I am today, but it took me to be willing and open to what I was actually facing. It’s not HIV itself, but the stigma of HIV that kept me hostage. It ends with me and it can end with you too. You are the author of your story, so you tell it and make it heard.
Why Derinthia wants to be part of A Girl LIke Me: My mission for A Girl Like Me is to bring awareness to all that are feeling impaired in speaking and having their own voice. HIV doesn’t define you. You define it.