In my family, I am the responsible one. I am born here, but my South American culture is very strong. I have to look after my sisters and my parents and they come to me for advice, or if they need something.
I used to go out with my friends, after high school finished. I went with them to see girls and all that. It was ok. Then that’s when I really knew, I like to be with men. My friends didn’t know. I had some experiences and it was like another part of me, not who I am when I am at home. I liked these experiences with men and for a while I did that a lot. It had to be a secret.
Then I had another secret. I got pretty sick. I thought it was all the partying. They did a test at the GP. He said, “I better do it for HIV too.”
I thought, “No way!” but he really wanted me to. And then the result came.
I couldn’t believe it. It was like my life fell down. I felt really bad and I couldn’t go to work. I had to hide it whenever I saw my parents or my family.
You see, I really didn’t know much about HIV. In my community it’s a big shame and no-one talks about it. And the going with men too. It’s like they know but they don’t know…
So now I have the medication and I go to the clinic. I prefer to go miles from where my family is. Every time if I get tired or sick, I worry about am I getting sick from the HIV? The clinic doctor, she tells me I am ok.
Sometimes I just want to stop the tablets. My doctors remind me of what could happen to me if I do that. I could get much sicker if I stop the tablets.
My family always talks about when I will be married and when I will have children. They want that for me. I thought I did too, but now I can’t have that.
I don’t know how my parents are going to take it if they find out. I don’t feel like going out now and I haven’t really been with anyone since I found out. I kind of just lost the good feeling about life.
Right now it is hard to feel good about my life and I hope one day I will find a way to feel different about life and about living with HIV.