I wrote a blog post on BabyBrownSugar the other day reflecting on my very first Mother’s Day. I got really emotional on this past Sunday morning not just because it was my first time being part of the “Mommy club” but because I’m so incredibly happy to have been blessed with the task of raising my beautiful baby girl. Mixed in with those happy emotions were feelings of sadness because I know there will eventually come a day when I won’t be around anymore and so it’s undoubtedly my job to do the absolute best I can to raise my daughter to be an outstanding contribution to society. I then started to think about my job as a confidant and protector of my daughter.
Educating her and being real with her about the dangers of certain behaviors will undoubtedly fall on my shoulders. A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to sit on a conference call with two outstanding and brave mothers named Masonia and Michelle who are currently living with HIV and are faces of the Together campaign. Most of us who aren’t living with the disease or remotely affected by it can live in somewhat of a bubble. It’s hard to picture and put a face to the disease, especially when you don’t know anyone personally who has it. But HIV is real. And there are real women, mothers, children, professionals, business owners, bloggers, models, CEOs, teachers, best friends, PEOPLE out there who are living with HIV – even though you don’t know about it.
Michelle and Masonia served as a wake-up call for me about the “faces” of HIV. They’re mothers of color, just like I am, who have met with the misfortune of contracting HIV and who are advocates of the #StopHIVTogether campaign. I’m sure once you hear their stories you’ll be touched the way I was. Check them out below:
Michelle (Mother of Two, HIV Awareness Advocate)
What touched me most about Michelle’s story is the fact that her daughter, who has been HIV positive since birth, works together with her to support HIV advocacy. Though her daughter played no part in contracting the disease herself, she has taken the entire process in stride and dedicates her life to helping others. That is so brave and admirable. Also, Michelle is a domestic abuse survivor who now works with battered women herself. It’s amazing how much strength she has.
Masonia (Mother, Youth Advocate for HIV)
What struck me most about Masonia’s story is that she’s the exact same age as me. I could be her. She could be me. On top of all that, she routinely got checked for HIV on an annual basis! And it just so happens the year that she didn’t get checked, she contracted the disease. It could happen to anyone. Which is why it is so very important to get checked and use precaution, whether you’re in a monogamous relationship or not.
What I hope you guys take away from this post is that it is very possible to be a mother and have HIV, whether you have your children before or after contracting the disease. In addition, you MUST take the proper precautions and GET TESTED. It’s so important. Think about your families, your own children (if you have them) and your loved ones. You want to be around as long as possible so please take of yourselves and let’s truly Stop HIV Together.
Be sure to keep up with the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and by searching social media using the hashtag #StopHIVTogether.
This post is made possible by support from the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.