United States

Hello, my name is Taj Gray and I am an African-American woman living with HIV. I hail from Chicago, Illinois, and I am a military brat. I've lived in California, Virginia, and I currently reside in Georgia.

I was not born with HIV. I contracted it at age 27 from someone who I thought was a friend. Someone I thought I could trust. The earth shattering news of being diagnosed with HIV happened around the time that I was getting a divorce, moving back in with my parents, and almost in a relationship with someone I really wanted to be with - who left me once they found out about my condition. All of this happened within the span of a month and a half.

I got my heart broken several times and I'll never forget the feeling. The emptiness. The lack of humanity. I felt like it was the end. But it was only the beginning of a fresh new life with a new view.

It took me a while to get used to having this diagnosis, but after a while I decided that I can't sit around and let ignorance beat me down. I felt it was my duty to start educating people and advocating about HIV and STI in general and spreading awareness about the different ways you can contract STIs, and how to take care of yourself if you do. I've helped change a lot of people's perspectives on HIV and that's merely all I want out of this lifetime - to continue educating and reminding people that we are all equal, regardless of what illnesses we have.

Why Taj wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: The importance of me blogging with A Girl Like Me is to educate people and remind them that it is not the early 80s or 90s anymore. There is medication for HIV where you can live a long and prosperous life if you take care of yourself and take your medication as prescribed. There's so much stigma based around HIV that I would love to help eradicate and open people's eyes and minds to the fact that HIV is not a death sentence anymore. Science has improved drastically and I would love for everyone who doesn't know about the new advances in science to be aware of them and be aware of how they treat people whom are living with this condition. The first word in the acronym of HIV is human. This is a human condition. No one is exempt from getting this virus.

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