Darkina explains why she wanted to tell her entire family she was diagnosed with HIV and recalls how they reacted.
When I was in treatment I wondered, “I am all alone; no family members, no anything because it’s all about me at this point.” I didn’t have one clue if I would even ever tell my family because the kind of family that I have. I knew they had the same education I had and that was absolutely none. No one knew that this was happening to African-American people as much as it was happening.
When I got out of treatment I went to see my family, which is a huge family. Seeing a lot of young teenage kids, nieces and nephews, hormones jumping out the walls, right away god placed on my heart to call a family meeting.
God placed in my heart that “I didn’t give you this to keep it; I gave you this to help.” So it didn’t matter at this point what they thought of me or this and that, I felt that it was my job to share with them that hey, I am an example, okay? I am an example of what you don’t want to be like and what you don’t want to have.
It was on Thanksgiving, November 24th where all the family was together- lots and lots, and as soon as I disclosed to everyone my status you had some people with their heads down; you had some people crying; you had some people sad but since I was so positive, by the end of my story heads was up. Heads was up, eyes was open. I am going to say over 90% listened to what I had to say.
You are not going to always get a 100% in a good response. You are going to have some negativity. You are going to have some ones… I had a niece that looked at me because I gave her daughter a chicken bone and she was like, “You are running around here with this disease; you are going to feed my daughter.” You know, I wasn’t mad at her. I was mad at the stupidity is what I was mad about, because you need to get educated on it. Once you get educated on this disease then you can understand, then you won’t make such silly comments, you know?
So disclosing to my family; disclosing to friends. If I am on the bus wherever I am, and I know the community that I came from, I know that what I was doing. I know I was sleeping with this person and that person and we are all in the same circle, I am going to tell you about it. I am going to tell you what happened to me while I was being out there if you know me because I know in my community, they don’t realize that every other person that they are looking at could be HIV-positive and we are all doing the same thing. We are all sleeping in the same circle.
Go back to my community and some of the women that I know that’s infected by the same individual, I show them I am an example of taking care of myself versus that individual that gave it to me. This is the difference. He is not taking care of himself - that’s what he looks like. I am taking care of myself and this is what I look like. You do not have to die from this disease.