EBONY is joining forces with Greater Than AIDS – a nation-wide campaign that stresses unity, hope, and personal empowerment to inspire people to do their part to stem the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic – to feature real stories from real people in a month-long series called “I Got Tested: Speaking Our Truth about HIV.”
Visit EBONY.com every Wednesday in the month of June in the lead up to June 27th, National HIV Testing Day, to read a new personal story.
Lolisa is one of the faces of the Greater Than AIDS campaign. She is HIV-positive and a devoted mother to an HIV-negative child.
As I watch my now two-year-old son growing and doing different things each day I admire his innocence. His biggest worry in the world may be how he can bribe his grandmother into giving him more candy.
When I watch him sleep at night I kiss his forehead and thank God again for blessing me with such a healthy and smart child. I smile because I know he is the best thing that could have ever happened to me and I just wish I could keep him from all the hurt and pain that life may one day bring him.
I am so thankful to have him in my life, and as an HIV-positive woman, I am thankful for the medication that helped me give birth to a healthy child.
It was January of 2004 when I tested positive for HIV and my doctor informed me that I would have to take medication to keep the virus under control for the rest of my life. When I started treatment, I had to deal with the side effects that came along with it, but I continued to stay on the medication because I knew it would help me get better.
After finding out that I was positive I also decided to get fully educated on HIV/AIDS. I learned that HIV-positive women could give birth to children who are HIV negative with the right treatment. When a pregnant woman takes her HIV treatment correctly before and during birth, and the baby is given treatment after birth, the chances of the baby contracting HIV are less than 2 percent.
At the time I did not wish to have children, but was put at ease knowing that if I ever changed my mind, my child would not be at risk.
Today, a little over eight years since I took my first pills for HIV, I have both a healthy relationship and son. To ensure that my son was born HIV negative I took my medication during the pregnancy and my son was also delivered via C-section.
One of the ways a baby can contract HIV is during delivery. Today, it is recommended for HIV-positive women with a high viral load to give birth via C-section, like I did, to prevent the baby from going through the birth canal.
As an extra precaution, my son was also given medication for the first six weeks of his life to make sure that he would not have the virus.
During my pregnancy and after he was born, I never worried at all about my child being HIV positive. Everything possible was done to ensure that he would be a healthy baby.
Since finding out that I am HIV positive and starting medication, I have been healthier than ever before. I haven’t been sick other than a cold here and there and my medication has allowed me to stay on top of the virus.
If it were not for me getting tested, finding out my status and getting treatment, I believe I wouldn’t be here today with my two favorite guys.
Note: If you are HIV positive, it is important to consult with a health care provider regularly about the best course of treatment. Over time your doctor may need to revise your treatment to provide the best possible care.