After being diagnosed at 19 years old, I didn't know or understand what HIV was. I just knew it was something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. What does that mean? What does HIV look like? Am I a label now? These were all the thoughts that ran through my mind.
I had no support or advocates to help process what life was going to look like for me. I was also pregnant with my first child, so double hit. First time mom diagnosed at the early age of 19. That was me. I couldn't get past my diagnosis. I remembered asking my doctor if I was going to die. I was so confused and lost all while having to figure out how to get on treatment and protect my unborn child. When you see me, do you see HIV? Those were my thoughts.
Now at 36, I have finally accepted myself and my status. It's important that we accept ourselves, so that the journey with our status doesn't destroy us. Remember, living with HIV doesn't stop or change who we are. If anything, we are special because we've always been special.