Woman living with HIV shares story


December 2nd, 2010

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Omaha NE, – About 15 people were tested for HIV/AIDS at UNO Wednesday, and another 25 for sexually transmitted diseases. The free health clinic marked national World AIDS Day.  And at a panel discussion, two people shared their personal accounts with the virus. Susan, who only used her first name, is a 52 year-old woman living with HIV. She’s a mother, grandmother and aunt.  She shared her story with an audience of a little over a dozen people.

A panel urged listeners to "be safe" at a World AIDS Day event at UNO (Photo Angel Martin)

“It changes your whole life. People ask me how did you get AIDS, and I say I gave it to myself. I say that because I made the wrong choices.  I didn’t care who I slept with I didn’t care if I didn’t know anything about them. You could be sitting next to your neighbor here in this room and they could be positive and you don’t know that. You don’t know until you’ve been tested.”

Susan said with the prick of a finger, you can know your HIV status in just 20 minutes these days.  Jordan Delmundo is the public policy manager for the local non-profit group, the Nebraska Aids Project.  Delmundo said, overall, HIV diagnoses have remained stable but have slightly increased in the last couple of years.  Delmundo said because the virus is 100% preventable, there shouldn’t be any increase at all.

A handful of people listened to HIV/AIDS survivors share their stories at a World Aids Day event (Photo Angel Martin)

“The biggest problem is that people don’t want to talk about things, and the root of that is social stigma; you know fear, misconceptions, discrimination. The way to combat that through our work is to show people how we’re connected we are all people. HIV is a virus and it doesn’t discriminate on someone’s race, age, gender, income level,” he said. “It could happen to anybody.”

Susan said she plans on living to see HIV/AIDS go away, and is waiting for the day her grandchildren can receive a simple shot, and never have to worry about the disease.

“I’m the condom aunt,” she said. “Aunt Susie’s got condoms. I tell them I don’t care what time, morning, noon or night, come to my house, knock on the door, I will give you condoms.”

“Please, please be safe,” she said.

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