Marissa Gonzalez was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey and moved to Southwest Florida in 2004 where she currently resides. She is the youngest and only girl of four, is of Puerto Rican descent, and the proud mother of a 5 year old fur baby named Zoey, a Chihuahua/Corgi mix.
In 2016, following an unhealthy relationship that had recently ended, Marissa received the results of her annual Pap smear and STD/STI testing. The test showed Marissa was HIV+. Due to her lack of education around HIV and internalized stigma, Marissa fell into a deep depression and ultimately attempted to take her own life. After undergoing treatment on healthy ways to cope, she struggled with the idea of going public about her status.
After about two years of soul searching, finding herself and her voice, Marissa decided she would place her HIV status on a pedestal for all to see - with one goal, to normalize the life of someone living with the condition. Since 2018 she has openly discussed her struggle with accepting the diagnosis, the journey of dating as a heterosexual woman living with HIV, relationship PTSD, and many other things that reflect a normal life while living with HIV.
Marissa is the President for The Youth Services Coalition of SWFL, an Ambassador for the Greater Than AIDS organization and Youth Across Borders, as well as a volunteer with The McGregor Clinic, which provides primary care and case management services for those living with HIV in the SWFL area. She is certified in HIV testing and has received extensive training as an HIV educator. She was also accepted into the 2020 Positive Women's Network Annual Fellowship where she is expanding her knowledge on policy processes. In addition, she works as a legal assistant by day, is the cohost for BizTalk, a series focused on promoting entrepreneurs and their business, all while building herself as an HIV, Self Love, and Body Positive Advocate.
Marissa wants you to know she has been a blogger for A Girl Like Me since 2019 and is honored to be a part of this Advisory Board. She hopes that by using her voice to share her experiences, you will see that you are never alone.