United States

So far I am a one year survivor of HIV. A twenty five year old single mother of four that is very outspoken and driven. I contracted the virus by my children’s father, who didn't know his status until I found out mine. We were in a four year monogamous relationship, so I thought! Having a routine check-up with my fourth child is when I discovered I had two sexually transmitted diseases. Finding out about the STDs caused me to request an HIV test.

November 28, 2016: the birth date of the new Wanona. I wasn't quite ready to accept my new lifestyle but shortly realized my diagnosis does not define me or the love in my heart. I had no choice but to fight, not only for myself, but most importantly my children, especially the life I was creating in my womb. I'm my children’s role model and they mean more to me than life itself.

Pregnant for the third time in three years with a child I didn't want at first, and finding out my status once an abortion was no longer an option, I was beyond devastated and frightened. I felt I no longer would have a normal life at the age of only twenty four at the time. To feel like you are now limited in life, smh, I can't get people to fully understand. Only if someone endured the things I have or similar, will you truly understand my pain.

After letting immediate family and few friends know of my status, was I then faced with the battle of letting the world know of the new me that was born. Constantly I was told to be careful of who I shared my diagnosis with, but why? I did nothing wrong and just because I am HIV positive now I have to hide something that is a part of me now. Umm NO, just because that is my status, that does not change who I am and what type of characteristics I have obtained. Thankfully I have a strong support system, and they knew the battle I was facing with wanting to express all my compressed feelings towards my situation. I want the world to know, I AM STILL HUMAN, LIFE GOES ON, AND THERE ARE MORE OF US than people truly realize. So I need people to really educate themselves and support ending these stigmas and stop making people living with or passionately affected by HIV/AIDS feel bad and unworthy.

My one year of being positive has recently passed and I truly see my growth and strength. My health is improving. I have HIV but HIV does not have me! I will win this war that so many before me have fought and are still fighting. WE WILL WIN! I declare it! So many people who share something in common with my truth have got awareness, knowledge, closure, courage, strength and so much more. I greatly believe by us coming together and getting connected that we can make this epidemic extinct.

I found my blessing and purpose in this life valuable lesson that God has bestowed on me. Coming out on Facebook LIVE was one of the best things that has taken place in my life. Facebook became my first avenue to reach thousands with my story and message on this undermined matter. It has given me the ability to show how I am able to live life to the fullest, even being HIV positive I'm living proof that all of the stigmas are full of shit, sorry! I love me and HIV is NOT but only makes up, a part of me. LIVE IN UR TRUTH!

Why Wanona wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: A Girl Like Me is so common but due to ignorance and judgmental people, they are afraid to come forward and seek advice and/or support. I am here to be someone’s motivation and/or their voice. WE have to be heard! I love helping others and making life just a little bit easier. HIV is not a death sentence. Some make it out to be, but it’s more of a second chance at life to get it right. Turn your (H)avoc (I)nto a (V)ictory!