How has your race/ethnicity informed your experience with living with HIV?

Melinda's Answer

That’s a great question, being a Hispanic woman and having HIV was kind of hard for me as well as my family. Especially when my mother was told before me, she was actually the one that told me when I woke up from being in a coma after two weeks. I was diagnosed in the early 90s, so people were not really educated including my mom. At the beginning the AIDS epidemic mostly seemed to impact gay men, ┬áthen it went to minorities which includes Hispanics, African Americans, and people living in poverty, and those who were or are addicted to drugs. It is very common to see Hispanics having HIV. I wasn’t very informed about my disease. I had to learn and seek information for myself, ┬áto tell you the truth my mother at the beginning was so naive that she would make me drink and eat out of a specific cup and use utensils with my name on them. These days we know our people, meaning those who are in the same boat , and we are more open and not embarrassed about our status. It has become a part of our lives, and it’s who we are – unlike other white collar people that they do anything and everything in their power for their secret not to come out!!!! It’s a shame that we low income people, living in poverty are not ashamed of being us and having all the information and knowledge about our disease so I guess I’m a proud Puerto Rican living with HIV.

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