Stories Of Promise - HIV Meds Saved My Life!
I got HIV from the love of my life. I'm Denise, a Hispanic woman originally from Venezuela. He was a sweet and funny Latin Musician, a Nuyorican I met here in South Florida. We fell madly in love, but the year after he proposed to me, he started getting tired all the time and became very sick. When he finally went to the doctor with white lesions on his lips, he discovered he had HIV/AIDS. The news was a shock for both of us, and my husband believed he had been infected by a former girlfriend who never informed him of her status.
I wasn't in a hurry to find out if I had HIV because I was physically very healthy and working full-time while also caring for my husband when he became too sick to work. Because I was so healthy, the doctors thought I might be negative and said they'd seen cases where one partner is positive, and the other is negative. When my husband's health started rapidly declining four months after his diagnosis, that's when I decided to get an HIV test. My test came back positive for HIV.
We were only married 3 months before my husband died from HIV/AIDS-related complications. While watching my husband suffer, I decided early on that I would get treatment for my HIV to prolong my health and my life. The HIV doctor I saw started me on antiretroviral therapy right away, and I honestly wouldn't be alive today if I hadn't been adherent to my HIV meds for the past
28 years. HIV meds saved my life! Experience has taught me that you have to take the meds the way they're supposed to be taken - that's something you don't question. You just do it because it's your life and it's what's going to keep you alive.
Despite my HIV diagnosis, I'm grateful for my husband's love - it was REAL love! And I've also become a better person because of my HIV. I'm more aware of my health and my body. It's allowed me to be an advocate to educate and empower other Hispanic women about HIV, and how to speak to their husbands. I always tell them to speak up for themselves because silence can ultimately equal death. I recommend they use protection with their husbands because you can't expect that your husband is always going to protect you. You have to protect yourself!