Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Latina shares about life with HIV


Like so many others, Maria never thought contracting HIV was possible.


Maria Mejia
MIAMI, FL - Maria Mejia is 37 years old, born in Colombia and has lived in Miami, Florida her entire life. She discovered she was HIV Positive when she was with the Job Corps Program where they tested individuals for HIV. She was infected with virus around the age 16 from her first boyfriend who at the time, unknowingly to her, was and I.V. drug user and also a gang member and so was she at the time, it was her family at that time. She had a wonderful mother growing up, but at the age of 3 was sexually molested by an uncle and having to deal with a mentally abusive father she ran away from home at the age of 13, which is when she met the boyfriend who would ultimately change her life forever. 

Maria, like so many others in the time period back then, never thought contracting HIV was possible because so many people thought it was just a homosexual disease, as we all know today, AIDS is a worldwide epidemic that doesn't discriminate when it comes to sexual orientation. When Maria discovered she had contracted the HIV virus, she felt as though her life was over and went back home to die. As the years passed she realized that she was not dying and accepted the fact that this disease would be with her until the end. She became spiritual and began loving herself again, and decided she would make changes to her life so that she could continue forward with her life. 

She says that in ways, HIV/AIDS actually saved her life. She became and activist and an advocate and realized that by sharing her story with others, she could save lives. Her 20 year journey has not been easy, because of the stigma attached to the disease itself, which is why she decided to come out of the HIV/AIDS closet and help others. She says that she doesn't want to feel like she's being treated like a criminal and constantly hide from it, she is a human being who just happens to have an illness.

She is a blogger at Thebody.com and a Girl Like Me from The Well Project. She helps others who have been infected and affected by this illness. She is also a peer educator for Miami Jackson University of Miami helping with educational classes, a volunteer for the Red Cross and was trained by the Health Department to be a pre and post counselor, and doing testing. Maria has been a model for HIV medications, and is currently in the Mac Campaign (My Aids Campaign). She has many dreams and wants to reach the whole world. She is a committed warrior in the campaign to help end the AIDS epidemic. 

It only takes one person to change the world, and each time someone like Maria steps forward to tell their story, the world changes for the better. 

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Miami, Florida.

What is your relationship like with your family?
My relationship with my family is awesome! My mother has been my rock from the beginning but there are some people in my family in Colombia where I am from that think I have another illness, they are very ignorant to the subject.

Does your family know and if so how did they react when you first told them?
My mother was the first one I told back in 1991, back then there was even more stigma, she accepted me and by tried to protect me from being hurt. She told me this is something we will keep to ourselves, we will say you have another illness. After the years passed I started feeling out some of my family member and disclosed to a few, they reacted really well because I was a trained HIV educator and I made sure I educated them long before I disclosed it to them.

Today people see HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease because of the medications that are available, but I think that undermines the disease itself. What can you tell our readers about the HIV/AIDS virus so that they truly understand the effects it can have on the body?
This is exactly what i was talking about, people are minimizing it because they see us looking good on the outside. People don't see the side effects of the medications which is sometimes more horrible than the disease itself, like body changes. Some people lose fat and gain it in other places, their bodies can become disfigured, it's very sad. Or, they lose fat in their faces, its called a lipodistrophy or lipoathropy, most get neuropathy. It is horrible, its nerve damage, and you are in constant pain 24/7 in your feet and legs and hands, like stabbing needles and numbness. It is so bad they prescribe you morphine and heavy duty narcotics which can lead to even more problems like addictions, gastristis, diabetes, aging quicker,renal problems. The list goes on and on. I will continue to say this and please listen, "HIV/AIDS IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE, BUT IT IS A LIFE SENTENCE, you get no breaks and you will most likely take very toxic medication until you die."

What do you think the government can do or should be doing to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

I think it is very sad but this disease is being minimized. I believe they should fund for more education, this is the key for everything, to prevent new infections and also for those already living with HIV/AIDS to help take away the stigma, which is something we have to face every day living with the virus. Also, there needs to be more research to find a cure. more into research for a cure.
I am thankful for the medications out there but sometimes the side effects of the medications are stronger than the illness itself. Another thing that has me worried is how young people and adults minimize this illness. People seem to think if you get infected you take a pill and you are fine, this is incorrect and as i always say this is not a death sentence anymore, but it is a life sentence.

What can we teach young people who are becoming sexually active about HIV/AIDS?
That it is not a gay disease or a disease for prostitutes or IV drug users only, that anyone can get it. I got infected, I believe when I was 16 years old and this is no joke, it's a hard illness to deal with and if you have unprotected sex only once, that is all it takes. I want them to protect themselves and not go through what I have been through. If they cant practice abstinence then you must use a condom. Just because you look good on the outside that does not mean you can't have HIV/AIDS. I want them to look at me when they think about having unprotected sex, ANYONE COULD HAVE IT!

Why did you decide to openly share this with the world?
I'm trying to remove the stigma attached to HIV / AIDS. I'm trying to remove the shame that people have connected with the disease. I'm trying to save lives. We are not criminals. Many people have no compassion and can judge others very cruelly.

When did you find out you were HIV Positive
I found out when I was 18 years old, but I think I got infected at 16. I was in a program called Job Corps, which evaluated all who were there. I underwent HIV testing with no major concerns, because at that time people thought that AIDS was a homosexual disease.

How did you contract the disease?
I think I contracted it from my first boyfriend. We were very young, but a few years later I learned that he used intravenous drugs and he was a gang member.

What kind of myths were prevalent at the time?
One of the prevalent myths was that HIV was a death sentence and you were going to die within months. Another myth was that only prostitutes, homosexuals and drug addicts contracted the virus, or you could get it from a mosquito, or drinking from the same cup as someone who was infected. It was a time full of follies and perpetuating misinformation and stigma. People thought heterosexuals were "clean and free" of the disease and if you had heterosexual sex you were fine, but that was not the truth. I was only a teenager. I was 16 years old. 

What was your initial reaction to the diagnosis?
Back then it was a death sentence. I was alone, away from my family. My first reaction was shock, because the doctor who gave me the diagnosis did not prepare me. When I saw his eyes, originally I thought he would say I had lung cancer or something similar, but he told me in a direct way that I had AIDS, it was really shocking. At that time I wanted to die.

When did you decide to fight against this disease and I said "No, I'm not going to die?"
At first, I refused to diagnosis and would not go to doctors to remind me I was HIV Positive, which happens sometimes after a diagnosis. Later, I decided to take control of the situation. I went to a doctor who recommended some strong medication even though it could damage my internal organs.

What did you do then?
I wanted to live longer and did not want to die of something else, such as renal failure that was common at that time because of drugs. It was then I realized that I could not sit and wait for death, and had to do something. I took control of my life and started living a healthy lifestyle.

Did you talk to someone about your diagnosis?
At first, only with my mother and my brother, then shared my secret with some friends, but unfortunately, one of them said "Oh, I cannot believe you just let me take your beer." It was very shocking.

Have changes occurred in your life since you knew you were HIV positive?
It's been a long process. I have had offers to model and announce HIV drugs. At first I did not want any of that embarrassment, but slowly revealed my condition to small support groups and volunteered to work with them. Two important things have happened. First, being tired of hiding like a criminal. Second, my partner's sister died of brain cancer two months ago and that was when I said "Why can people say I have this horrible disease and I can not say I have HIV? I am not a criminal."

Are you receiving any treatment?
Well, the first 10 years I was taking natural medicine; my mother has a health food store. Currently, I take antiretroviral, Coenzyme Q10 400 Mg., it's natural supplement and that helps with the toxicity of the medicines Mitochondria destroyed. Also, Vitamins C, B12 and healthy eating.
 
What activities do you do?
Thebody.com and write articles for the Well Project A Girl Like Me. I also speak at conferences. I volunteer at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami as a Peer Educator. Through my Facebook page and email I have for the body.com I give advice to those newly diagnosed or those who have a long history with the virus and those who are suicidal.  Among other activities, I give talks in Miami Dade County Public Schools. I've been active in this fight and soon I will join Positive Connections to lecture and I will be part of the plan committee.

What would your final message be for people?
If you have unprotected sex, it only takes once to get HIV/AIDS. It can happen to anyone, from the youngest to the oldest. We are strong people and survivors, please do not minimize the disease. Get tested, it is better to know than not know, so lives can be saved. "Having HIV / AIDS is not a death penalty, but it is a life sentence."


7 comments:

  1. He have just done it for me I never believe all this post in the internet he have prove to me that he is real I was very sick and also pregnant, I was 4month pregnant and also a HIV positive I contact this HIV through sharp object when I was 2month pregnant and I don’t know about it until when I go to hospital for normal pregnant check up and I was tested that I have HIV and it was like a dream and I was shock about it because I never have sex with anyone else my husband And they detected that it was a sharp object beside when I was pregnant I was not tested HIV positive then why now am HIV positive I was just crying I was just thinking about my child and he we be HIV if I get birth to he and I was just crying about it when I get home I explain everything to my husband and my husband was just confused and he don’t know what to do about it we decided to go for different hospital to find solution but all come out with same answer that I should being taking drug I feel like killing my self because life was just some how to me well I never give up I go for online doctor all come out with same answer only okorundo the great spell curer cure me from this disease when I see this post on blog I was just see many post and I don’t know which to contact but my only hope is my child I speak to him through my mind to lead me through to pick a right email well I thank god for my life now am okay I pick DR.OKORUNDO I contacted him and tell him about my problem the doctor was just smiling I was just confused and a tear fall of from my eye, through phone this man told me that I should not crying again and something come to me how do he know that I am crying and a little smile come to my life that he can help me cure this disease that am carrying this man ask me to product my picture and my real name which I did and also 30mins later he called me and ask me to send money to him for him to buy some items well I have to two things in my mind that he is after my money and he repeat same thing “MY DUAGHTER AM NOT AFTER YOUR MONEY” I was just confused how he discover my thought I send down the money to him next day of it he called as ask me to go for check up they doctor never discover if I have HIV before I was heal and cure totally THANK YOU LORD FOR USING THIS MAN FOR MY LIFE you can get cure if you want to my friends this is his email contact him DR.OKORUNDO@HOTMAIL.COM

    ReplyDelete
  2. He have just done it for me I never believe all this post in the internet he have prove to me that he is real I was very sick and also pregnant, I was 4month pregnant and also a HIV positive I contact this HIV through sharp object when I was 2month pregnant and I don’t know about it until when I go to hospital for normal pregnant check up and I was tested that I have HIV and it was like a dream and I was shock about it because I never have sex with anyone else my husband And they detected that it was a sharp object beside when I was pregnant I was not tested HIV positive then why now am HIV positive I was just crying I was just thinking about my child and he we be HIV if I get birth to he and I was just crying about it when I get home I explain everything to my husband and my husband was just confused and he don’t know what to do about it we decided to go for different hospital to find solution but all come out with same answer that I should being taking drug I feel like killing my self because life was just some how to me well I never give up I go for online doctor all come out with same answer only okorundo the great spell curer cure me from this disease when I see this post on blog I was just see many post and I don’t know which to contact but my only hope is my child I speak to him through my mind to lead me through to pick a right email well I thank god for my life now am okay I pick DR.OKORUNDO I contacted him and tell him about my problem the doctor was just smiling I was just confused and a tear fall of from my eye, through phone this man told me that I should not crying again and something come to me how do he know that I am crying and a little smile come to my life that he can help me cure this disease that am carrying this man ask me to product my picture and my real name which I did and also 30mins later he called me and ask me to send money to him for him to buy some items well I have to two things in my mind that he is after my money and he repeat same thing “MY DUAGHTER AM NOT AFTER YOUR MONEY” I was just confused how he discover my thought I send down the money to him next day of it he called as ask me to go for check up they doctor never discover if I have HIV before I was heal and cure totally THANK YOU LORD FOR USING THIS MAN FOR MY LIFE you can get cure if you want to my friends this is his email contact him DR.OKORUNDO@HOTMAIL.COM

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was tested HIV + positive last 3years. I keep on managing the drugs i usually purchase from the health care agency to keep me healthy and strenghtful, i tried all i can too make this disease leave me alone, but unfortunately, it keep on eating up my life, this is what i caused myself, for allowing my fiance make sex to me insecurely without protection, although i never knew he is HIV positive. So last few 4days i came in contact with a lively article on the internet on how this Powerful Herb Healer get her well and healed. So as a patient i knew this will took my life 1 day, and i need to live with other friends and relatives too. So i copied out the Dr.INEGBEDION the traditional healer’s email drinegbedionspellhome@gmail.com and I mailed him immediately, in a little while he mail me back that i was welcome to his temple home wereby all what i seek for are granted. I was please at that time. And i continue with him, he took some few details from me and told me that he shall get back to me as soon as he is through with my work. I was very happy as heard that from him. So Yesterday, as i was just coming from my friends house, Dr.INEGBEDION called me to go for checkup in the hospital and see his marvelous work that it is now HIV negative, i was very glad to hear that from him, so i quickly rush down to the nearest hospital to found out, only to hear from my hospital doctor called Browning Lewis that i am now HIV NEGATIVE. I jump up at him with the test note, he ask me how does it happen and i recide to him all i went through with Dr.INEGBEDION I am now glad, so i am a gentle type of person that need to share this testimonies to everyone who seek for healings, because once you get calm and quiet, so the disease get to finish your life off. So i will advice you contact him today for your healing at the above details: Email drinegbedionspellhome@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW TO SAVE YOUR LIFE:drinegbedionspellhome@gmail.com AS HE IS SO POWERFUL AND HELPFUL TO ALL THAT HAVE THIS SICKNESS… or call for immediately respond +2347038110398

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  4. I'm giving a testimony about DR Aziegbe the great Herbalist, he has the cure to all manner of diseases, he cured my herpes simplex virus, though I went through different website I saw different testimonies about different spell casters and herbalist, I was like: 'Many people's have the herpes simplex virus cure why are people still suffering from it?' I though of it, then I contact DR Aziegbe via email, I didn't believe him that much, I just wanted to give him a try, he replied my mail and Needed some Information about me, then I sent them to him, he prepared it (CURE) and sent it to me through Airfreight Online Courier Service for delivery, he gave my details to the Courier Office, they told me that 2-3 days I will receive the parcel and i took the medicine as prescribed by him and I went for check-up 2 week after finishing the medicine, I was tested herpes simplex virus negative, if you are herpes simplex virus patient do me a favor by you contacting him and I assure anyone who is suffering it,your problem will never remain the same again you will be cured.ALSO DR Aziegbe help my sister husband to cure his HIV/AIDS he was suffering from it for the past 3 years, After he {cure} my herpes simplex virus, then my sister heard about it, she went home to tell her husband about DR aziegbe then her husband email him and explain his problem to him, he also prepare herbal medicine and he use Airfreight courier service to sent him the herbal medicine and he instruct him on how he will be using it for 14 days, That on the 15 days of it, he should go and check his self in the hospital and he did as he was instructed by DR Aziegbe to GOD be the glory he was cure of his HIV/AIDS which he was suffering from for the past 3 years thanks to these great man we will ever remain grateful to you sir indeed might work you did in our families. When you contact him, make sure you tell him that I refer you.. contact him via: DRAZIEGBEHERBALHOMEOFSOLUTION@GMAIL.COM

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  5. My testimony on how i was heal on herpes by one doctor called DR OKODUWA.
    Am anna luccy by name i live in uk i suffered the illness called herpes, i have been in so many hospital's i visited so many herbalist no one was able to cure my illness,this nearly take my life, until a friend of mine introduce me to one DR OKODUWA i never knew the man was so powerful until i got in touch with his herbal medicine. That was when i know that there is a real DR OKODUWA who can cure all disease so he cure my hiv i regain back my life and all that i have lost come back to me, the DR OKODUWA is indeed is powerful Dr. contact him to see for your self his Email is drokoduwahealingtemple +237068877610.

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  6. I THOUGHT THE PHYSICIANS SAY NO CURE FOR HIV/AIDS AM TELLING YOU TODAY THAT DR OZI CURE HIV/AIDS WITH HIS HERBAL MEDICINE AND ONCE YOU GET CURED YOU ARE FOREVER CURED IT IS NEVER REVERSABLE.

    MY NAME IS WILSON KITA JOYCE FROM THE UNITED STATE OF AMERICA,I AM USING THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE LIFE BY SHARING MY TESTIMONY THAT THERE IS A CURE FOR HIV/AIDS BECAUSE I AM A LIVING TESTIMONY,I SUFFERED FOR HIV/AIDS FOR GOOD ONE YEAR AND TWO MONTHS AFTER LOOSING HOPE THAT I CAN NEVER GET THE CURE BEACAUSE THE DOCTORS SAID THERE IS NO CURE FOR IT,BUT THANKS BEEN TO THIS GREAT MAN CALLED DR OZI WHOM I READ A TESTIMONY ABOUT ON HOW HE CURED HIV/AIDS WITH HIS HERBAL MEDICINE,I NEVER BELIEVE THIS BUT I DECIDED TO CONTACT HIM THROUGH THE STATED EMAIL,(droziherbalcurehome@gmail.com) and he send to me a herbal medicine and ask me to drink and bath with the herbal medicine for 3 weeks but to my greatest surprises, i went for a medical test after two weeks and my status was negetive till today i cant keep sharing this testimony please brothers and sisters there is a cure to hiv/aids, contact this man for what ever you are going through, what ever sickness you are suffering from, like
    (1) CANCER,
    (2) DIABETES,
    (3) HIV&AIDS,
    (4) URINARY TRACT INFECTION,
    (5) CANCER,
    (6) IMPOTENCE,
    (7) BARENESS/INFERTILITY
    (8) DIARRHEA
    (9) ASTHMA
    (10)SIMPLEX HERPES AND GENITAL HERPES
    11) HE ALSO HAVE SPELL TO BRING BACK YOUR EX
    hiv/aids,perkinsons disease, ALS,CANCERS,HERPES. contact him with his email via droziherbalcurehome@gmail.com or whatsapp him through the following contact on +2348060858046

    ReplyDelete


  7. I THOUGHT THE PHYSICIANS SAY NO CURE FOR HIV/AIDS AM TELLING YOU TODAY THAT DR OZI CURE HIV/AIDS WITH HIS HERBAL MEDICINE AND ONCE YOU GET CURED YOU ARE FOREVER CURED IT IS NEVER REVERSABLE.

    MY NAME IS WILSON KITA JOYCE FROM THE UNITED STATE OF AMERICA,I AM USING THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE LIFE BY SHARING MY TESTIMONY THAT THERE IS A CURE FOR HIV/AIDS BECAUSE I AM A LIVING TESTIMONY,I SUFFERED FOR HIV/AIDS FOR GOOD ONE YEAR AND TWO MONTHS AFTER LOOSING HOPE THAT I CAN NEVER GET THE CURE BEACAUSE THE DOCTORS SAID THERE IS NO CURE FOR IT,BUT THANKS BEEN TO THIS GREAT MAN CALLED DR OZI WHOM I READ A TESTIMONY ABOUT ON HOW HE CURED HIV/AIDS WITH HIS HERBAL MEDICINE,I NEVER BELIEVE THIS BUT I DECIDED TO CONTACT HIM THROUGH THE STATED EMAIL,(droziherbalcurehome@gmail.com) and he send to me a herbal medicine and ask me to drink and bath with the herbal medicine for 3 weeks but to my greatest surprises, i went for a medical test after two weeks and my status was negetive till today i cant keep sharing this testimony please brothers and sisters there is a cure to hiv/aids, contact this man for what ever you are going through, what ever sickness you are suffering from, like
    (1) CANCER,
    (2) DIABETES,
    (3) HIV&AIDS,
    (4) URINARY TRACT INFECTION,
    (5) CANCER,
    (6) IMPOTENCE,
    (7) BARENESS/INFERTILITY
    (8) DIARRHEA
    (9) ASTHMA
    (10)SIMPLEX HERPES AND GENITAL HERPES
    11) HE ALSO HAVE SPELL TO BRING BACK YOUR EX
    hiv/aids,perkinsons disease, ALS,CANCERS,HERPES. contact him with his email via droziherbalcurehome@gmail.com or whatsapp him through the following contact on +2348060858046

    ReplyDelete