Darkina describes how she contracted HIV and shares her reaction to her diagnosis.
Hi, my name is Darkina. I was diagnosed HIV-positive a year ago, September 1st, 2009. I was in treatment on August 18th and on September 1st is when I found out I was HIV-positive.
To me, I was placed in the right place at the right time around the right people; out on drugs for about four and a half years and in this small little room is when I found out that I was HIV-positive. As they started asking me questions for the first time in my life I realized how high risk I was to be positive.
I was out on drugs for over four and a half years. I was a prostitute, turned a lot of tricks, didn’t use any protections, HIV was probably the last thing on my mind at the time and I did all different sorts of things. Smoking crack caused me so just lower everything, any standards I ever had, I lowered all of them.
And as of September 1st is when I was diagnosed HIV-positive, which was sexually transmitted by a partner that I was with. He was my boyfriend at the time.
I was admitted into treatment into a small room and as they asked me these different questions about my sexual activities, being with different women, being with different men, unprotected – that was my life. I had no protection at all, didn’t think about any protection, didn’t care about any protection, it was just straight out there doing my thing.
My test came back positive. I sat, I cried. I was confused. I was hurt. I didn’t know anything about HIV, very scared, very scared. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know what to do, but immediately I began to thank god because I was in the right place at the right time. I was around people that were educated with HIV and passed it on to me.
Later on, for some days I was down, for days I was down – crying, I was confused all because I had another medical problem where I was doing some bleeding and didn’t know…and I was getting sick with the cold, didn’t know exactly what was actually going on, had never been to a medical doctor or anything for the HIV, so I was down a whole lot for at least a couple of weeks.
Ebony House was the treatment center that I was in with the staff that they had. One staff member pulled me aside and said, “Why are you looking so sad? Does it look like I am dying” And I told her ‘no’.
Immediately it shook off the negative feeling that I was having. Spend a lot of times thinking about my disease, picked up a book immediately, start reading about it, getting educated about it and my attitude began to change, just being around the positive people that I was around, seeing how outgoing they were, seeing the education that they have, I was willing to learn everything about my disease.
Also being around the people that I was around left me with no choice but to have a positive attitude to be what I was and that was positive. So I came up with a little saying where “HIV is what I have, but positive is who I am.”
If you find something positive, you know, something negative wrong with my positive attitude because to me I was positive to keep god first. I was positive to never pick up crack cocaine again. I was positive to do the right thing for the rest of my life and that’s the life that I have today for the rest of my life, and with that attitude I have just being going forward pretty much ever since, with Ebony House right by my side.
The main thing is my education on the disease, causing me to have a very positive, positive attitude, taking care of myself, not that I am no different than an individual with cancer, an individual with diabetes. There is no difference between me and that individual. Just willing to hold and talk to any woman that’s not getting any medical attention to show them the difference and someone that is getting medical attention, goes to my appointments, eat the right foods. HIV is not as big as they make it. It’s only as big as, you know, when you are not taking care of yourself.