Why we cannot forget?
I remember when I was first diagnosed with HIV I learned about being undetectable. I was so excited about the word in itself. It meant I almost didn’t have it. I had also read about the stories pre-CDC stamp on the U=U campaign. People would write in forums about how hard it is to pass it from woman to man or how the medication makes it so you are pretty much not able to pass it. Medicine would not officially say this was a true statement. One of my biggest memories from being newly diagnosed was when medication was always watch and wait. If your numbers stay low, no medication for you. I was excited because I could keep everything about HIV to me myself and I. There was no medication to be questioned or unusual doctors visits. The goal for me was always to forget. Forget that I had it, forget how it made me feel, forget that I had not forgiven myself, forget it all. Then one day I looked up and it had been a year since I had seen a doctor.
I lived so normal and freely I forgot that although I am human, I am young, free and beautiful, my body was different. My immune system was under attack. Untreated anything could happen to my body. I needed to intentionally take care of my body. I had to still see a doctor every 3-6 months to make sure I was healthy. What had happened to me? Why had I just forgotten? I was confused as to why I had been so irresponsible. I scheduled an appointment and saw the doctor. Guess what, they suggested medication and an infectious disease doctor. I officially had to deal with this disease. I couldn’t forget again. I had to do better. That’s when I took control - 4 years after my diagnosis. I began to not forget.
Coping can be difficult a lot of the times because this one pill cocktail has to be taken every day or your life of being undetectable may be over for you. That scared me, I wanted to live. I wanted to have kids and grandkids; to travel the world; to inspire and touch hearts. I truly wanted to live the life God planned for me regardless of what happened to me. The one way to do that is to take care of me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. So, in my arsenal of taking care of my body is not forgetting so I can increase the days available to me to live this life.
My word of advice for you to today is to cope in a healthy way. Yes, taking my medicine is a constant reminder of the stigma associated with being a person living with HIV. But it is more of a constant reminder that I can live a longer life and complete a bigger purpose.