I am woman living with HIV, in a serodiscordant relationship with a wonderful man who accepts who I am unconditionally, a mother of three daughters, and recently welcomed my 7th grandchild! I am new to the Board of Positive Life and like many women living with HIV, I am a strong independent intelligent woman who has survived extraordinary life events.
Initially my HIV diagnosis in 2004 paralysed my life with fear. I was grieving the loss of a future, a relationship, happiness and sexual freedom, friends, family and jobs. I was in isolation living with threats of HIV discrimination and stigma. The diagnosis almost destroyed me. My self-worth and self-esteem shattered until I was introduced to other people living with HIV, and Positive Life NSW literally saved my life.
The challenges I have faced both internally and externally are a testament to my resilience, commitment and strength. We all have our story of HIV stigma and discrimination, and now I have skills and knowledge to support others going through their own challenges. Every day, I strive to find the positive in being Positive.
As a Positive Life Board Director, and a positive heterosexual woman from a regional area, I have a platform to represent the interests of women living with HIV through my lived experience. I am passionate about the needs of women living with HIV. We make up 10% of the positive population and yet we are underrepresented in medical trials and social research. We often face significant issues associated with isolation and lack resources and support related to our unique health issues. I love that I can use my voice to fight for issues that are close to my heart.
Today I have found my power through owning my truth. I run a successful business working as a beauty therapist in Newcastle. I have friends and a community that supports me. I have truly authentic friendships, conversations and support in a safe space. I am proud of my status as a woman living with HIV.
Published in Talkabout #202 April 2022