Owning a Handbag Doesn't Make You a Handbag

Submitted on Nov 9, 2022 by  Flor de Loto

Translated from Spanish
Para leer en español, haga clic aquí.

I am a 59-year-old woman. Almost 8 months ago I received an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Unexpected, surprising, incomprehensible, and unfair. With these four adjectives I can describe that first impact that the diagnosis generated in me. It was as if the floor had cracked and the ceiling had fallen on top, both at the same time, in perfect simultaneity.

How was this happening to me? A strictly monogamous woman, married for 18 years, who didn't know what even a brush with a man other than her husband was, one of those women who are called "decent". How could I be the object of HIV's desire?

Denial, sadness, deep anger, very deep, disappointment, were feelings that accompanied me for some months, luckily only a few.

Faced with the impact, I appealed to rationality: I immediately looked for places to start found one regular, another worse, until I found the best. A few days later I started my treatment and in less than 6 months my body responded gratefully: undetectable, I am a healthy woman in the most absolute meaning of that word.

I was able to draw on everything that sustained me: faith in God, the practice of Yoga, listening to sacred music and even praises in Hebrew, I treated myself to moments of deep silence and meditation.

Sometimes it was hard for me to meditate because tears covered my desolate face with so much sadness. Meditation turned out how it turned out but I never abandoned it.

I started therapy and it was a one way trip. I had no one to tell or at least that was what my shame made me believe. But shame of what?

It was always clear to me who would be the first person I would tell, but as a preliminary step I needed to feel good and be able to convey the peace of mind that I still did not feel.

It was so that a month after starting therapy I told my daughter. And that day I ended up as exhausted as happy. I remember going to a candy shop with delicious sweets to have a snack with the best company: myself.

I have been in treatment for 8 months, I am not the same and I thank God for that.

I want this journey that I am beginning by sharing my experience on this blog to be a grain of sand to give HIV a human face, because behind the diagnosis there is a biography, there is a story and that is what makes the storm weather the best that it can be, that the acceptance process is as it is for everyone.

I hope that reading my experience will help you look inside yourself and recognize yourself with all your strengths and resources: love, purity, peace, wisdom and vitality, like a lotus flower.

Owning a handbag does not make you a handbag, so keep in mind: HIV does not define you.

I'm not HIV, neither are you.

Hugs to you.


Lotus flowers in water and logo for Una Chica Como Yo.

Submitted by Marig2016

Wow! What a writing! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! so many things stuck out to me in relation to my own story. We truly are not alone in our feelings, emotions and experiences. Thank you for taking a chance on you, to be the best version of you that you possibly can be! Welcome to our community, welcome to out sisterhood! Know that you are NOT alone even when it feels like you are! <3

Submitted by MsLilly78

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have had some difficulties too and no one to turn to. I am so grateful to have a place where for the first time in my life, I feel I belong. 

Submitted by PDEES

Hello My Love,

My name is Porchia Dees and I am a part of the Community Advisory Board for the Well Project. I want to first let you know that I am inspired by your courage to start speaking out and sharing your story so soon after being recently diagnosed. You are so brave, because it took me years to start openly and publicly sharing my story. I was born HIV positive in 86 and for so long I was told I needed to keep it a secret. Me and my mothers diagnosis was the family secret.

and I know so many folks who still are living in fear and shame from the STIGMA and afraid to open up and talk about so I am so proud of you for getting into care, seeking the help you needed, and for having the courage to share your story to help others.

You’re on the right track. I too practice meditation, with consists of a lot of prayer and listening to inspirational or motivational videos that have a bunch of positive affirmations and taking deep breaths in and out ❤️‍?✨??‍♀️

It really helps with my anxiety. You’re in the right place, and you are connected to an amazing community of women who OVERSTAND what you are going through.

Embracing you with open arms.

Love and Light ❤️‍?✨??‍♀️


Submitted by MsLilly78

Just reading your stories of the journeys you've all been on is truly inspiring for me. I have always been very aware of the affects of the virus especially growing up in the 80's. I am forever grateful for those who took 80 pills a day and championed the cause so that I can only take 1. I remember very well watching the Ryan White movie and crying and wanting to hug him and be his friend. He's hugging me now ? I love every last one of you ❤️‍?


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