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A Woman with HIV

What is it like to live with HIV infection? A young woman tells WebMD her story.

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"It is hard. I have a boyfriend now and he knows and is understanding. But I know people's ignorance is not going to go away. I still think people are going to hate me or not want to be my friend when they learn I have HIV.

"I worry about my mom, still. My brother, he has told me he wishes he had it instead of me. But I say, 'No, don't wish for that, it isn't something I would ever want.' It is something you can take and make it a great thing to live your life to the fullest, or you can just be depressed about it. It would be different if you are used to living without it and then have it. I think that would be much harder.

"I do not know what it is like not to have it. I have never been sick. I've been taking the same medicine for 13 years. They changed the medicines only once because I was on the same regimen for so long. That was the only time I got sick, [which] was in reaction to the change in medicines.

"I never really got sick enough to go to the hospital. There are days I feel sick, but I have hope. I thank God because I look at others and see how much worse my situation could be. I look normal and am normal in every other aspect of my physical health.

"I plan on keeping on trucking. I plan on doing great. I wouldn't be this way without the medicines and theoretical advances and technology. And I haven't gone through half of the drugs yet, and that makes me happy. But it is a hard disease to have.

"It is a lot better now. Because I know I am going to be OK. I know it has gone this far and it is only going to get better. It is a bad situation, and I am making the best of it.

"I know now that people know more about HIV and AIDS. It is not now a hush-hush thing. On TV there is AIDS awareness. People want to help others and care. But I am not one to say, 'Look at me, this is what I have.'

"I feel like people are more aware now than they ever have been. But just because there are medicines out there, and things like MTV spots and speakers who come to schools and speak to the students - even so, young people still don't think it will happen to them. You still have to be careful.

"I think, especially for younger generations, they couldn't even imagine knowing someone with the disease. They all sleep around, they don't care. They protect themselves, but that doesn't always help. They think nobody they know could ever have HIV. They would never guess I do.

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