Hello! First of all, I want to say how happy I am to be here. I've truly been blessed through my HIV journey to have so many amazing opportunities and blogging for A Girl Like Me is high on the list. I still can't say "A Girl Like Me" out loud without getting a lump in my throat. It's the most appropriate name, it's emotional for me and very special. From all the women I have met in the world thus far from my YouTubing that are HIV+, the bond is immediate and strong.
A little about me: I'm a mom to 3 kids, and I'm also a teacher, avid surfer/skateboarder and now a YouTuber. Lol, how the heck did that happen!? My journey started back on 2-15-16, when I was diagnosed with HIV. I was told a week later that I had AIDS. My world changed forever in a split second. Within a couple months, I healed physically and with that came emotional and psychological healing and acceptance of my new condition. I decided to share my initial HIV story with Facebook and then 5 months later through YouTube. To my absolute surprise, my video went viral and my YouTube channel was born.
I decided to go all in and show my life with HIV. I wanted people to see this is what a working woman with kids, in a relationship with an HIV- partner looks like. I wanted to break down the walls of stigma (still do!) and let everyone know that you can still have a very full, happy and active life with HIV.
My YouTube Channel has over 60 videos and almost 5000 subscribers. I upload about 3 to 4 videos a month. As long as the need and interest is there, I will continue to make videos.
For AGLM, I will be largely sharing my content from YouTube with more in-depth descriptions and explanations. I'm looking forward to using this platform to blog my thoughts about HIV or whatever seems fitting for the site.
Without further ado, this is my first YouTube video I put out to the world. Basically, I just hit record in my car and started talking into my phone one sunny August afternoon. I really didn't know how far I would go with it, but I ended up in my bedroom showing my sick pictures and doing a lot crying. The whole experience was cathartic and it felt good to express what had happened to me.
Once I figured out how to download a 30 minute video (that was much harder than I thought), I started seeing "views". I watched those views like a cat watches a mouse, I couldn't believe what was happening. My video was being seen all over the world and people were writing to me with comments (both positive and negative). It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I worried about being criticized for how I felt about HIV (it not being a "big deal" to me). I didn't want to disrespect anyone, especially all of those who succumbed to AIDS in the past, yet I wanted to represent this virus in the best possible light. I didn't see the point in the stigma that had continued to follow this virus through the years. I also wanted the world to know that HIV was still continuing to make its way through the population and women like myself (a smaller demographic affected by the virus) were no exception.
I hope that my HIV story, journey and outlook find you all well.
So much love! Jennifer
PS. I left out breast milk accidentally in the video, that has been pointed out to me several times.
Watch this video on Jennifer's YouTube channel.