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HAPPY WORLD AIDS DAY!!

Yes, you read correctly. Happy World AIDS day, much like you might wish someone “ Happy Birthday”, “Happy Anniversary “ etc., I wish you a Happy World AIDS Day. To some this may sound crazy but please allow me to explain…

Being HIV+ for the last 25 years has led me to a certain perspective on life. I do not view the world and life in general as most 48 year old women do. My experiences are different because of HIV. Not necessarily better or worse-just different. As I watch my non-HIV+ contemporaries navigate the world there are vast differences.

I see my friend’s posts on Facebook referring to children, grandchildren and retirement and I am always curious. I wonder what that would be like but they are NOT my experiences. In my world a lot of energy goes to medications, co-pays, education and support. My focus for years was just staying alive and mourning those unable to succeed at this.

Now that I have more confidence in living to enjoy wrinkles and gray hair (yikes) I focus a great deal of energy on HIV/AIDS education, helping folks LIVE with a positive diagnosis and doing everything in my power to erase the stigma attached to this disease. Believe it or not, this focus has provided a full and rich life. Educating, speaking and mentoring others with HIV/AIDS is so rewarding I can’t imagine my life any other way.

I often wonder what it would be like to post about children and grandchildren but I truly can’t even imagine it. Instead, I reflect on what I DO have in my life and all of the joy, all of the wonderful folks and of course the experiences brought to my life because of HIV/AIDS and I have to scream from the rooftops…”HAPPY WORLD AIDS DAY”.

I am grateful for this virus and the opportunity it gives me to help others. On World AIDS Day I take time to regroup and recommit to prevention and helping others live with this virus. I recommit to fighting the stigma and reminding the public that no one is untouched by HIV/AIDS. My favorite holiday is not Christmas, my Birthday or even Valentine’s Day. My favorite holiday is World AIDS Day which I celebrate as a reminder that I have made it another year, a remembrance of those who have passed and in hope that we are one step closer to a cure! Happy World AIDS Day to you!

Posted by Valerie Wojciechowicz / 01.12.11

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