CDC’s HIV Treatment Works: Sharmain’s Story


“HIV, you are a part of me,
but you do not control me.” Well, when I was nine,
they just kind of explained that you have this disease
that affects your immune system, and if you get sick–
like, your brother gets sick, your brother may get well
in a day or two, but you may stay sick longer. My family told me that the best
thing was to keep it a secret, and, so, I thought,
“Hey, I can’t tell anybody,” so I’m just like, “Oh, am I ever
going to find anybody who cares about me and who loves me for me,
and knows me.” It was really like depressing, really. I overcame my depression through
seeing a psychologist and a social worker. I can either let this be a
negative thing in my life, and cry and be depressed
in bed all the time, or I can turn this into a positive, and that’s when I kinda thought,
started doing things more positively, competing in pageants, and started working
on a blog called “Girl Positive,” and just everything positive– that’s all I wanted in my life, and I just completely got rid of anything that was negative and
that was holding me back. And, I’m known as a
Peer Advocate Liaison, and that’s basically working
with people who are newly diagnosed, or have been diagnosed with HIV
and are out of care, and I’m trying to get them in care. Unless you’re kinda ready
to move forward, you’re not really going to, but I try to remind them that
“You have something to live for, find what you have to live for.” Because that’s what helped me– I found what I had to live for. Well, being pregnant
definitely makes me like just, remember, take your medicine
every day, don’t forget. I know that the best chance
for my child not having HIV is for me to take medicine
while I’m pregnant, and be undetectable at his birth. So I’m doing everything–
I’m going to prenatal visits, I’m taking my medicine every day, I’m trying to make sure that,
you know, he has the best start
in life possible. And it’s just, it’s made me
so much more aware of my life and just how grateful
I should be. And, I know it sounds like,
[lilting voice] “Oh, you have HIV,” but you know, honestly,
sometimes, I’m just like, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it’s made me who I am.