Nancy Asha Molock has never faced a challenge she didn’t meet head on. Following a 29-year career as a schoolteacher in Philadelphia, she became an advocate with the Positive Women’s Network, and she divides her time between caring for her special needs son and her aging mother. She chronicled her experiences in her first book, Gaining Strength From Weakness: 101 Positive Thoughts for HIV-Positive People.
Molock says her biggest challenge was trying to keep her status a secret from family and friends. “Going through the trouble of hiding my status was stressful,” she says, “and just as detrimental to my health as HIV itself. After disclosing my status, I received much more support from family and friends than I ever imagined. On the other hand, people still believe outdated myths about how HIV is transmitted.”
Diagnosed 15 years ago, Molock was already 51, an age where the body’s immune system begins to slow down. And since high blood pressure is hereditary in her family, she’s currently being treated for hypertension.
“I fight very hard to keep at bay the other age-related conditions — like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease — that can be aggravated by HIV,” she explains. “I’ve changed my lifestyle to include weight training and other exercises, wholesome plant-based eating, no smoking or alcohol, more rest and sleep, massages, and other self-care practices that I feel will keep me healthy. HIV is manageable with medications and I can live a long life if I don’t succumb to any of the other chronic health conditions.”
Unlike others her age, Molock has never had to deal with drug resistance or adherence slips, but in the early stages of her diagnosis she did have to switch medications because one treatment caused her “horrific” nightmares
“It’s always difficult changing meds,” she adds. “Sometimes you have to get used to a new set of side effects. I’m on my third regimen in 15 years. Last year I asked my doctor if I could switch to one pill a day. So far, Triumeq has been great. I’m tolerating it very well.”
Read more from our Long-Term Survivor series here.