I remember thinking that HIV was never something that I needed to worry about because HIV just didn't happen to someone like me, I mean I was a little stupid in the decisions of who I slept with when I was younger but I was never too bad. Then after a DUI in March of 2005 which resulted in my being sent to a thirty day drug and alcohol treatment center and being put on probation, I stopped all of the nonsense which even in the years before I had almost completely turned around what I call the young, teenage girl, from a divorced family syndrome and I wasn't sleeping with the suspicious characters that I had once found myself so easily persuaded by wanting to appease them, just to get some attention, some love. But after the DUI, I remember feeling like my parents are going to be so disappointed in me, I remember crying my little eyes out thinking how ashamed they would be, and how ashamed I was in myself for driving a car when I was drunk I could have killed someone, that is when my life changed and I started to take some accountability which I now can look back on and understand that it was the first baby steps of my growing up. I did everything that I was told to do, I abstained from alcohol, I attended AA, I abstained from sex and relationships for almost two years, heck I even chaired AA meetings, I didn't drive and I took the bus most everywhere I needed to go, so I never could have imagined that someone who did everything that they were supposed to do, everything the law outlined, everything that was responsible would be in the place I am currently. Around the time that I got off of probation I was starting to hang out with a friend from the old days and it was not that she was a bad person or that she was irresponsible but the lifestyle that she lived was just not a lifestyle that I could handle, I just am not the party girl, I am the sip a little wine, have a few beers once in a while, get together for dinner girl, so it wasn't long until some of my old demons started to creep back up. You see I have had some major traumatic events happen in my life and I by no means say this so that people feel that I am using the past events as an excuse but I feel that a young woman has enough pressures in this world without adding, a dead sister, amnesia, rape, abortion, near death experience to the mix of growing up and finding out who you are when you are a teen and young woman in your twenties.
After probation I figured I can do what I want so I started trying to fit back into the party crowd and I ended up getting fired from the salon i worked at because of tardies I started to mount up. That is when I decided I wanted a fresh start so a cousin of my friend that was living in Florida invited me to come down and stay with them until i got a job and got on my feet and I figured, why not!?!? Well why not is because this man gave me HIV after pursuing me once I was in Florida and then trying his best to abuse me enough emotionally that I felt as though I was stuck, what he never understood is that I am survivor always have been and always will be, so one day when he gave me money to go get groceries, i snuck as much in my car as I could and high tailed it out of there. Off I went back to my upper middle class fathers home, to safety.
I got back to Nebraska and started looking for a job and just living a very normal life then I met my sons' father. We dated for about three months and I got pregnant the second time we where intimate, impossible right, nope. Well as much as that scared the be-Jesus out of me I knew that I would do my best to be a wonderful mother so even though I had been so frightened by the prospect of being alone and pregnant out of wedlock at 23 I thought well it doesn't matter pull up those big girl panties.
At about my three month check up I was asked to come back in to give more blood, I thought nothing much of this, I mean i had only been with three men in almost a three year period. In hindsight I am more happy about the fact that I did not allow my own ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding to prevent me from saying yes to being tested for HIV. I say this because so many women I know do not get tested for HIV when pregnant because they don't feel that they fall into the group of people who are affected or infected with HIV. Now we all know that obviously I found out the reason they asked for more blood is because my body was in the process of seroconverting and they had to confirm that the lovely, white, middle class girl they looked at and thought never, was actually positive with HIV. And the rest well it is history.
It is history because nothing I can ever do will change what is, I can not go back and ask that they would have taught me more about this disease in school, I can not go back and change the ignorant frame of mind I and so many young people had/have, I can not go back and tell myself that the man that seemed like prince charming at first with his big beautiful house and money was the man that would change my life and reshape the human being I am today so much so that my core being was shook, but I CAN inform people, I CAN share my story, I CAN do something, I CAN never shut up, and I CAN share with YOU what some of my life experiences have been in the hope that you understand that NO ONE is immune from HIV, or other STD's for that matter even if you can take a pill to cure it because that just increases the chances you will catch HIV, I CAN tell you that it is not a gay disease, that it is the leading disease and cause of death globally for women in the reproductive age range and right HERE in America it is the leading cause of death for African American women, not a third world country, HERE, and if you think so naively as to say well I am white or whatever guess what you are sleeping with every partner of every person that the ONE mate you are sexing it with has had, so I don't care what your skin color is and neither does HIV.
So in conclusion folks, this is what I ask no this is what I challenge you to do, walk up to one person, one parent and ask them what they know about HIV and if you do not know anything inform yourself, use some of the facts I shared with you in this, back to the point now, the challenge ask them to talk about HIV with someone they do not know ask them to pass the info on and at the next dinner party you have or the next time you are sitting down to dinner and talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol talk about HIV, make HIV a part of your norm and pass this domino effect on through the world, all it takes is a couple willing people to start a revolution, will you be one of them?