In the late 1990s I wanted to purchase a house and was told that I needed to have an insurance policy. When I went to purchase that policy they said, “You need to test for AIDS.” I had the test done, no problem, but when I went to collect the result they said they couldn’t give me the policy because I had AIDS. It was like a bombshell to me. I did not expect it.
I went back to my boss to explain. The people with whom I was working, they started distancing themselves from me. Eventually my employer asked me to leave. The news spread that I had AIDS and my friends started to run away. I didn’t have support from my family. I was chased away from my two children. I had to start another life. I lived alone, without friends. At that time, around the 1980s through the late 1990s, HIV and AIDS were so scary. No one wanted to associate themselves with people with AIDS. Even myself. I could not accept myself as a person living with AIDS.
In the early 2000s you started to see education programs and so on—I think these assisted a lot. Through treatment literacy programs, I learned about the lifecycle of the virus, how the virus operates in your system, how to control it. Me and the virus, we need to have a clear understanding. If the virus kills me today, the virus is going to die. I’ve made a bond with the virus to say, “Spare my life and I’ll spare yours.”