Empowered, but Now What?
When I was diagnosed with HIV, I also found out I was pregnant. The doctors'told me, just like the woman in your article, that I would'have to make a decision'to abort my child or have it with a 99% chance that he would be born with HIV ['It's My Life,' May].'But unlike her, I did what I was told to do and aborted my child.'From then on my life started to spiral downward because I could not deal with the fact that I had this fatal disease and that I had had an abortion.'I started smoking crack and doing whatever else went along with smoking crack; you can use your own imagination with that.
Years later I learned I was pregnant with my son, who I have now, and he is a healthy young man who does not have any trace of the disease, nor does he have an addiction to the crack that I smoked while I was pregnant. I'signed myself into a program called Teen Challenge, where I stayed for one year.'I have been clean for eight years now, and I don't miss that part of my life at all.
I'm in'the insurance business, and I'm doing pretty well, but I just can't get past this feeling of loneliness. I'm happy that my child survived and did not contract any of my problems.'But I'm 50 years old now. Where do I go from here? And how do I continue to lead my life and be happy and find someone who understands that I'm a human being just like they are and that I do have feelings.'I want someone to see that I'm a good person and no longer a slave to the mistakes I made in my past. I would like to spend the rest of life with someone who cares about'me, not what I could give them in'a monetary sense or that if they have anything to do with me they would contract my disease. I would love'to be able to share my love with someone and let him know what my situation is and know that I no longer have to keep it a secret.
Off the Mark?
The piece 'Doing a Good Deed?' in the May issue really struck a raw nerve in me.'While serosorting may make it easier for HIV-positive people to be open about their serostatus, likening it to doing a good deed, I felt, was somewhat reprehensible. This self-quarantining is part of what makes HIV-positive people feel isolated and helps to fuel the sero apartheid.
I'm all for preventing the spread of HIV, but I don't believe in denying myself the opportunity of love and affection based on HIV status.
Prevention messages would be better focused in trying to address the root of the problem that leads to HIV's spread (self-esteem issues) rather than the manifestation of the problem (risky behavior).
Updating the Situation
I appreciate the opportunity to address the misperception that individuals were cut off the HIV program at the Minnesota Department of Human Services for failing to meet their obligations under cost-sharing measures ['Minnesota HIV Program Cuts Debtors,' Life+Culture, April]. In fact, all clients except three have retained services. The three cases were closed because neither our office nor the clients' doctors or case managers could locate them.
Administrator, HIV/AIDS program
Department of Human Services
St. Paul, Minn.
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