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I would like to say that it’s not the end. There was a time when somebody said you had HIV, you felt like you were doomed. But they have come so far in our society with this disease that people are living much longer. I tell you, I couldn’t feel better. I’m 60, and I’ve had it since ’91.

I got tested, I was told to come in for my results, and it felt like everything in me just hit the floor. Because I really didn’t know nothing about it. I started very desperately preparing for my death. But every day that I live, God let me become more and more aware. There are things that can be done. It took me a while, but I stuck with it. I can tell you my viral load, I can name all my medications. These things we have to do on our own. We can’t expect doctors and social workers to stay on top of things for us. You got to take some responsibility yourself.

Don’t be afraid to discuss what you’re going through. Get involved in different programs, and do whatever you can, whenever you can, to help you to do better with your life. It has been a great help to me, and I don’t mind passing the word along. I talk to people. I try to inspire them that they are the most important person.

A lot of people feel guilty. Some people have such terrible guilt. The thing we need to know is, it’s not your fault. It’s all kind of ways of getting it—your husband can give it to you. Wives can give it to you. It’s what you’re gonna do now that you have it. It’s not a death sentence. But at the same time, you will have to change your lifestyle. Are you gonna continue to live, or just dig the hole and fall on in?