I acquired HIV in 1985 from my fiancé who use to shoot dope as a teen in New York. What a gift he gave me. I spent the next few years in a drunken, coked out haze of parties and hangovers. I made a conscious choice; if I was dying (that is what I believed at the time), I was going to go out with a bang. And what a bang I made. I thought I was the only women in the world who was positive. Luckily, the HIV+ gay guys welcomed me into their support groups and advocacy efforts. Thank you guys, you are loved and missed. In the early 90's, I was involved in various fundraisers, ACT up marches, and other volunteer experiences. I learned so much about pain, love, and loss. I remember one of my duties at an AIDS Service Organization (ASO) was to read the obituaries and see if any of the clients had passed away. Yes, morbid, but necessary at the time. It was like looking at your own mortality square in the face. My partying, if you want to call it that, started to get the best of me. It wasn't fun anymore, it became an obsession and I didn't know how to stop. My life spiralled out of control; I was a mess. Lost my job, my health insurance, and my home...not a pretty sight. Needless to say, my T-cells plummeted, my health deteriorated, and my will to live was non-existent. I was waiting to die, planned my funeral, gave most of my belongings away (which wasn't much since I had lost most of it) and I waited for death. Well, to my surprise, death never came; new medications did. And an ASO gave me housing and helped me get my life back together. With every new day, my health improved; I started to have hope, a new outlook on life. I decided I wanted to go to college and that is exactly what I did. I spent the past 10 years in school. I earned my AA at a community college, transferred to a University and earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), then a Master of Social Work (MSW), and I just graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH). Now I have a bunch of initials after my name and I am actually thinking of returning to get a PhD; I am a glutton for punishment. Well, my first blog, how exciting. A little glimpse into my life and what a wonderful crazy life it has been. Today, I am excited about every day...what's next...who will I meet...what will I learn...who can I inspire...how can I get involved and how can I help?
Why Lovinglife wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: I believe it is important that women around the world find a voice, find others who they can identify with, and find hope. I am not alone and neither are you!
Very inspiring story. May i know when you started your medications? was it immediate or sometimes after you got infected?
Thanks and sorry it took so long for me to reply. I have been in a conference in DC. There were no medications when I first found out. I started taking AZT every 4 hours when it became available. It made me very, very, sick. Today, we are blessed with a choice of drugs!
Vickie, your story is amazing! You are inspiration to all of us to never give up. Thanks for sharing.
You are a great woman and I will always love you--
Wow Vicky that's really an amazing story, really inspiring. If you could advise me please on this. I am from South Africa, I tested positive in 2006 when i was pregnant with my daughter, fortunately God was on my side, as i was given Nevaripine to avoid my child being affected and she came out negetive. I have always acted up being positive and ok with the sistuation but the truth is I am battling to cope, mostly its because have the father of my child is really distancing himself from me, as he says am depressing him, when exactly will i get used to this situation, he drinks and goes out partying with his friends a lot, and mostly my concern is his friends, they change girls like its still a game to them, I can't seem to leave him as I have it in my mind that where exactly should i go or who to? In South Africa there is still a lot of stigma in people infected like me, so it is not always easy, well for me it is not easy to just start a new life with someone whereas i am sick. Things got worse when i had to start ARV's, it also depressed me, I was i such a state I wanted to die. Sometimes he is supportive and sometimes he just seems annoyed by me. I seem to have depended so much on him for my happiness, it's hard now to start standing on my own, i feel so lonely and confused, as i do not have parents anymore to talk to. Have tried helplines, they advise I should leave him, but I just can't seem to leave him, I love him and don't think it'll be fair for me to start another relationship with someone, knowing I am sick. How do I leave him? How do I start a new life, where do i start to stand on my own, have sacrified a lot for him, but he doesn't seem to appreciate it. Am confused and so lonely. Yes your story really insipired me, but where do i start?