When husband and wife Kalvin and Eunice Marshall, ages 65 and 64 years old, were both diagnosed with HIV back in 2007, they didn’t see any straight couples like themselves being public about their experiences. So they decided they’d become that couple. And now, well over a decade later, they have created a legacy of education, community, and visibility that will last for generations.
“After our diagnosis in 2007, our vow, if we lived, was to become a shining light to other couples that would be diagnosed after us, so they could see there is life after a diagnosis of HIV as a couple,” the Marshalls say. “Because we did not see heterosexual couples leading the charge to acknowledge that there are straight couples living and striving after a HIV diagnosis, we decided we would become visible in the HIV community so others could see that it is possible to continue in a marriage or a relationship after a diagnosis of HIV. We can’t say it has been an easy journey, but we would not have survived without the support of each other.”
Together, they’ve become facilitators for HIV support groups in Houston, helping create the Houston Heterosexual HIV Awareness Task Force, and Eunice helped start Women With A Purpose, an HIV support group for women. The couple also goes to high schools and universities in the area to spread awareness to younger Texans.
Now, as they prepare to celebrate 37 years of marriage together, they’re also ready to keep on spreading awareness. “The heterosexual experience has been overlooked in the history of HIV,” they say. “Our stories have not been heard or told. Who better to tell our stories than those that are heterosexual? Men and women have continued to be mislabeled and ignored in the HIV community. We offer more to the history of HIV than what has been portrayed.”