by Beverly Henry, Peer Educator/Advocate, CCWF
My name is Beverly. I am co-infected (HIV/HCV), bi-sexual, African American, 52 1/2 years young, and last of all, Im in prison until 2009.
My message in this article is for every woman who is currently incarcerated and living with the enemy (HIV/AIDS). Learning about my positive status in 1994 (on a prior prison term) sent me reeling into depression, anger and fear, just to name a few of the feelings I experienced. Yet I discovered a hidden quality within myself (called courage) that suddenly surfaced to assist me in saving me from self-destruction.
This courage demands that I be self disclosed at all times, that I take personal responsibility for my health, along with studying about my enemy and choosing who I care to include in my life today, as well as who I choose to share intimate moments with. Speaking of intimacy, many of us (women), prior to learning our positive status, had failed relationships, possibly due to addictions and abusive mates. Then you test positive and feel you will never have what means so much, a meaningful, healthy intimate relationship.
Well, for sure I have learned through trial and error that Beverly is deserving of intimacy and love, and that I have choices today. Plus my courage allows me to never give up my desire for loving and being loved unconditionally.
Do not allow anyone to make you feel bad about your sero-status. Do not allow yourself to accept verbal and physical abuse because you think your abuser is the only person in the world who will accept you now that you have HIV. Check within yourselves and apply the courage you find hidden inside you, use it to the fullest, my sisters. There is love out there for you, and living with HIV/HCV is possible if you have the courage to go for it.