For the interview section of the group project, I decided to interview a twenty-five year old woman who resides in the San Francisco bay area in California. Choosing to have her personal identity remain anonymous, the interviewee has granted us permission to refer to her as the alias Mary. Mary is currently married to a thirty year old man and has one nine year old son. Surprisingly, Mary did not contract the disease by having heterosexual intercourse with her partner like so many other women have gotten HIV.
She had obtained the disease through intravenous means. Mary’s husband and son are not HIV positive. Mary has been living with HIV for the past six years. Throughout the interview, Mary had a very wise and warm aurora about her. Her cheery and positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life was evident. I questioned Mary of her understanding of HIV/AIDS before and after her diagnosis six years ago. She had explained that since she was nineteen years of age, she has struggled with depression and turned to shooting heroin as a coping mechanism.
Mary, like most adolescents, was completely unaware she could obtain the disease through sharing needles; she thought HIV was spread only through homosexual intercourse. When Mary had discovered she was in fact positive of having HIV, feelings of embarrassment and fear, and thoughts of suicide swam though her head. Questions such as “how can I tell my husband (boyfriend at the time)”, “what will my family think”, “will I be able to see my son graduate or get married”.
However, after years of continued counseling, Mary has come to a brighter understanding of her diagnosis. “Having HIV is not a death sentence and I can still live a semi normal life. ” By attending support groups, conversing with individuals living relatively normal lives after obtaining the disease, going to therapy and talking with doctors, Mary found solace. “Even my husband (boyfriend at the time) was very supportive. I thought he would have ran for the hills! ” Mary said, chuckling. Mary’s family were also understanding.
Her family sends money to help pay the medical bills and offers an aiding hand in raising her nine year old son. Stated earlier in the interview, after obtaining HIV, Mary has had a very warm and vibrant aurora about her. Since learning of her condition, Mary has learned that she is stronger than she had previously considered herself to be. “I felt that I (could) handle anything thrown at me. ” I really commend and praise Mary for her courageous outlook on her life. That even after hitting this speed bump, she has taken on a positive attitude and confidence regarding life.
When I inquired Mary about how she told her family, she said she told her husband first then her other relatives at Sunday dinner. Tears were shed but eventually her family initially stood by her side. What really stood out to me the most during this part of the interview was her son’s reaction to the news. “My husband and I told my son together and explained to him what mommy has. He asked if I was going to die and I told him not for a very long time. He then preceded to play with his Legos as if I had told him it was raining outside. After asking Mary if she had anything to say to the other women of the world living with HIV, she smiled and stated “For all those beautiful, strong women of the world living with this condition, do not pity yourself. Keep your immune system working by eating healthy and taking vitamins and taking your meds. I know sometimes life seems unfair but it’s worth living. You’re all strong and beautiful. Never believe otherwise. ” This was the most inspiring words and heartfelt words Mary has said throughout the entire interview. For the past four years, Mary has been completely clean of drugs and alcohol.
For the past five years, Mary has been attending therapy twice a month and has recently stopped frequently going to the doctor because monetary issues and her insurance has dropped her from her coverage. Mary still receives standard antiretroviral therapy to suppress the HIV virus and to stop it from progressing to AIDS and practices safe sex by using a condom and dental dam. To wrap up the interview I questioned if Mary had anything she would like relatives or anyone else to know about HIV. “For the relatives, it takes a village to raise a child.
Even though I was nineteen years old, a mother and living on my own, I was in fact still a child. After being diagnosed, I was especially vulnerable; it was like I was born again…For the others, don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know who is living with this disease and never know how hard the struggle is to live with this disease. ” It was really a pleasure and a treat to talk to such a kind, strong, woman who has been through so much in her life yet achieved so much regardless the circumstances. Mary is a wonderful mother, an attentive wife and has earned her Associates degree and is now a receptionist.
Courtney from Study Moose
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