My name is Ana de Oliveira and I'm already in my 40's. I'm a Portuguese/ Cape Verdian woman living in the UK for over 15 years. I am a mother of four beautiful children (I will tell you more about my motherhood, there are some interesting facts...).

I work as an Associate Practitioner at a microbiology laboratory. I am a compassionate person and since a very young age I dreamt of becoming a nurse. I even studied Nursing at a masters level, however, life got in the way and I regretfully had to discontinue with my studies. But, deep down I always knew that my fulfilment in life would only be achieved if I was caring for others, and being part of a positive change in someone's life. What I never expected was that in order to live my dream, I would need to "wear the same shoes" as those I would eventually come to help one day.

When I was diagnosed with HIV on January 3rd, 2019, I was devastated - not about the illness itself, but rather how I contracted HIV. I will never forget the day of my diagnosis and simultaneously how I was saved by motherhood. My first thought was my children... if something was to happen to me, how would they cope? Even knowing fully well that HIV is no longer a death sentence, I felt their pain of surviving without me, an unbearable pain. I was in a very dark place, but I came to slowly accept that I could not change what had happened to me. Instead, I could turn my painful story into a powerful one.

Why Ana Maria wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: I envisage a new outcome for this issue of dealing, talking about HIV, and everything in between, and to reach that outcome I need to be part of the process. I can’t be quiet about something that can affect all of us and not prevent others from going through the same pain.

Oops, I almost forgot to mention...Yes, you can live a happy and healthy life after an HIV diagnosis.

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