"I'm living my life with great hope for the future and deep appreciation for the moment."
I found out I was HIV positive in July 1988. I was 22 years old, with a 9 month old daughter. My husband was struggling with drug addiction and was infected through injecting drug use. Our daughter tested negative, which was the one piece of hope I clung to in the early years when AIDS was a terrifying death sentence.
I kept my diagnosis a secret because of the social stigma. My husband died in 1999. At the advice of my doctor, I finally told my daughter about my condition when she was 18. At the time I was having some health problems and my doctor said I should tell her before I became more poorly.
My health has improved, due to the new meds that became available. I've been on almost every regimen, and I've had a lot of bumps along the way, but I'm still here. I've planted daffodil bulbs everywhere that I've lived since my diagnosis. The flowers that persevere, emerging each spring, symbolize my hope for the future. I have reached milestones along the way. I danced at my daughter's wedding, and I look forward to cheering her on as she graduates college this spring.
I celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary this year with my wonderful second husband, who is HIV negative. My 22 year old self could not have predicted the direction my life would take. I so vividly remember the despair I felt, alone in a clinic in an unfamiliar city. I was given the test result that would change me forever. Today, I have a beautiful life. I have loving family and friends. My work gives me a sense of purpose. I'm living my life with great hope for the future and deep appreciation for the moment. And, I know, in the spring there will be daffodils.