The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

Living with HIV: three candid female stories


Source: Harper's Bazaar

Harper's Bazaar talked with women who do not hide their HIV status, and make-up artists M.A.S. created images using lipstick and lip gloss VIVA GLAM. All funds from sales of products from this line are invariably sent to the MAC Foundation AIDS Foundation, created by MAC Cosmetics in 1994, and supporting specialized organizations in more than 110 countries around the world - including in Russia.

Фото: Depositphotos


34 years

“Knowing your HIV status, the most important thing is not to google”

I learned that I was HIV positive, in 16 years. Quite by accident: I passed the tests before hospitalization, brought the results to the doctor, and he scolded me: “Well, why didn't you say that you have HIV?”. To be honest, I was not very surprised: I lived in a focal Petersburg area on HIV infection and there were HIV-positive friends around me. HIV wasn’t "something" to me.

I was more worried about my mother: she is a kindergarten teacher, a teacher from God. Naturally, the first thing she thought about when she heard my diagnosis was that he would put a cross on her career. But having gone straight from the clinic to the AIDS center, we received comprehensive information about the disease from the epidemiologist, and both continued to live practically as if nothing had happened.

I was lucky. Perhaps played a role and young age. Now, when I talk a lot with 30-40-year-old women who recognize their HIV status, I increasingly understand that the main reason for their fears and depressions is a bunch of stereotypes about HIV that they have already accumulated in their lives. They say: "I am so ...". And what is this? You're just a person who got sick. You need to adapt to this.

With HIV you can live quite qualitatively and comfortably. It all depends on how informed the person is. That is why I conduct a video blog "On the way about the main thing." These are 3 minute videos in which HIV-positive people answer the most commonplace everyday questions. Such a brief guide: how to travel with HIV? How to build a relationship with a doctor? How to give birth to healthy children with HIV? How to treat teeth? How to increase the chest? The lack of adequate sources of information very often leads to the fact that a person, having learned his HIV status, lives in a distorted coordinate system and severely limits himself.

HIV is a quality filter: the “left” person will not stay with you. Both my first and second husband, HIV-negative people, very loyally perceived my illness at the stage of friendship. With the first we lived together 6 for years, with the second - 10, we have a common child, Ratmir. He is 4,5 of the year and he is HIV negative.

Ratmir knows that mom is sick. That in order to be healthy and beautiful, mom needs to drink pills. Probably, a little later, the information will overwhelm him to a greater degree: nevertheless, I conduct active social activities. But it is even interesting to me - from the point of view that when he grows up, I will be able to speak the same language with him. And to instill respect for the woman and explain why you should always use condoms.

I work in the non-profit partnership “EVA” as a project coordinator for counseling women living with HIV, or in couples where one partner is positive and the other is negative. My main social task is to show that you can live comfortably with HIV. I do not think every day that I have an incurable chronic disease. I just behave just like any other person with any other chronic illness.

I advise you not to google a person who has just found out about his positive HIV status. It is important to immediately reach some non-profit organization where a consultant or a psychologist will have enough time to explain: HIV is not a sentence. Unfortunately, in a public hospital, the doctor has approximately 12 minutes per patient - what can be explained in this time to a person who is desperate? Sometimes communicating with those who have been living with HIV for some time becomes a key factor for acceptance. Just to know that in front of you the same person, who has already lived through some stages, is sometimes incredibly important.

If you still started to google, bypass sites that HIV does not exist. This is the worst. HIV dissidents make a tangible contribution to the epidemic growing at an appalling pace. But I believe: if a person possesses transparent information from a doctor or a counselor at an AIDS center, he will never follow such links. So once again we return to the main point: forewarned is forearmed.


36 years

"I contracted HIV through an improvised tattoo machine"

I learned that I was HIV positive by coming to get registered in the antenatal clinic. Unfortunately, this is a common story for Russia. It was the 2003 year, I was in the 10 week of pregnancy and got infected shortly before conception. In spring, everything was perfect, and in October I learned that I have HIV.

I know exactly when and how I got infected. In June of that year, my friends and five of us got our own tattoo machine tattooed. It was a super-responsible action. Super irresponsible. And the tattoo is still on me.

I clearly knew the sequence of actions in the event of a positive HIV test. Back at the end of 90, I worked as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and communicated with a large number of HIV-positive people. But in the women's clinic I was faced with a complete lack of understanding on the part of specialists. The obstetrician-gynecologist told me: “The tests are bad, I am recording you for an abortion.”

Thanks to competent therapy, I gave birth to a beautiful healthy son. He will be thirteen at the end of April. He treats my illness calmly. He does not consider it something special.

Now doctors more easily perceive patients with HIV. But the reason for this, alas, is sad: the infection spreads with such speed that every specialist of absolutely any kind of profile has somehow come across in his practice with an HIV-positive person.

A great contribution to the de-stigmatization of HIV is made by coming-outs of famous people. That is why I myself speak a lot and openly about my status - including from the big screen. I think it really helps people who cannot accept themselves and are at a dead end.

I am actively engaged in social work. I support HIV-positive people who have problems with access to medical services, with close people. Now we are preparing an on-site palliative care service for people with end-stage AIDS, who for some reason cannot go to hospice.

To someone who has just received a positive HIV test, I advise you to take many, many deep breaths and exhalations. Calm down, do not panic, do not climb into the Internet. Just take a direction and go to get registered at the AIDS Center.


50 years

“HIV does not look at either a passport or a diploma”

My name is Anna Petrovna Koroleva. Just like this: the Queen, without points over the "e" - only I live not in Versailles, but in an old house near the Botanical Garden in Moscow. I am a primary school teacher, but now I work as a private tutor and consultant.

I found out that I have HIV in 2010. This was not shocking news for me: by that time, my husband had been HIV-positive for more than 10 years. But what is more important is that he was a HIV-dissident: these are people who deny the existence of HIV and consciously refuse any treatment. His mother, a medical professional, also belonged to their number: she believed that there was no such disease — there was simply a reduced immunity.

When I was 43 of the year, my husband and I wanted common children. Children did not work, but HIV turned out. Our marriage broke up over time. After that, I married an HIV-negative man who treated my status with great understanding. Unfortunately, a year later he died of lung cancer. So to speak, for reasons beyond the control of HIV.

I have a son, he is almost 25 years old. He is, of course, HIV negative. My son supports me madly: if it were not for him, I would not have lived. He knows more about this disease than I do. But almost all relatives and once bosom friends stopped communicating with me. Just disappeared. But I do not blame them. I think so: it is always easier for people to dump their internal problems on someone else. Find an enemy from the outside. An HIV-positive person in this respect is a successful target: look, here he is, bad, dangerous, he can infect us! How to infect, what to infect? ​​.. In general, I have long ceased to be offended: people have their own internal problems with which they live. I do not live with these problems, I'm fine: new acquaintances, joint plans, future live projects have appeared.

For example, now I belong to the organization “Plus MINUS”, which includes both HIV-positive people and HIV-negative people. We are all passionate about sports. We train together: friends, doctors, relatives, students, friends, children and adults. Who wants reveals his HIV status. It is very important for an active social life and psychological comfort, because there should not be rejection and discrimination.

I started taking antiretroviral therapy as soon as I could, and at the moment I have an undetectable viral load of 2 for the year. This means that HIV is not detected in my blood.

Why did I decide to live with an open face? I just realized that people who recognize their status after 40 years (old age does not save the virus: HIV does not look at the passport or diploma), it is much more difficult to accept it. Therefore, the first thoughts at that age are usually suicidal. And then - complete self-isolation, self-stigma. You see, these are perfectly normal women - teachers, accountants, doctors; they have children, grandchildren. For them, HIV is a shock. We seem to be there, but it’s considered that there is no way for us: well, what kind of HIV after forty? But we want to love regardless of age. Both in 50, and in 70, and in 100 years. Faced with the fact that gorgeous women, stunning wives and mothers, outstanding workers, scientists, managers literally self-destruct and fall into an incredible depression, I decided to open my HIV status to help fight and overcome the fear of this disease to others. I left my phone number to doctors in our AIDS center and asked to give it to women at the age who need help, but who cannot or do not want to go to official psychologists - it is difficult for them at first. I know what to say to these women, almost the same age. I know how to help. I generally love people. And life.

In the US, AIDS is already on the 4-th place among the causes of death for women at the age of 15-45 years. With 1990, the rate at which the number of patients with HIV infection increases is higher among women than in any other group. So, if in 1982, the ratio between men and women with AIDS was 15: 1, in 1990 - 9: 1, in 1995 - 4: 1, and the shift towards women continues. For women around the world, sexual activity is the main risk. Over 90% of women currently infected with HIV became infected as a result of unprotected sex.



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