Cida, Rio de Janeiro
My name is Maria Aparecida Lemos; I prefer to be called Cida Lemos. I am 54 years old, I live in Rio, and I am a person living with AIDS. I have been infected since 2000.
I never thought that AIDS could one day be part of my life. I am a retired teacher, and I always guided my students to take care of themselves, to get treated, and I thought I was immune. When we have little information, little knowledge, we end up not believing that some things can happen to us. I was 45 years old when I was diagnosed, and had never met anyone who had AIDS. I thought only artists got it, or other people—but it happened in my house, in my bed.
A year later, in 2001, I went blind due to an opportunistic disease, a cytomegalovirus that attacked my retina. I lost my eyesight after having five surgeries in each eye. From the moment I went blind, everything changed.
I am usually told I am very strong. People invite me to give talks about my life experience. But I didn’t have any other option. I can stay at home sulking and crying, or I can raise my head and fight. For a year I stayed at home crying, but that didn’t take me anywhere, so I decided to get up and do it differently, seek new challenges. I can say I make myself proud at times.