May 10, 2011

I WANTED YOU AND NOT YOUR HIV


To this very date over 230,000 African Americans has died due to the AIDS virus.  That average around 40 percent of deaths in the Black community alone.  The sad thing is that it's people that know that they are HIV positive and still spread the beginning of this deadly disease.  It's heartbreaking because a great portion of that percentage caught the disease from someone they trusted at some point.  Should you be sentenced to death because of whom you love?  Is it fair to not tell someone that you're positive before advancing to an intimate level?
Before I discuss any further I will like to say DO NOT read this post and start pointing fingers at Homosexuals and Lesbians.  AIDS/HIV doesn't have a race, sex, or gender preference.  Anyone can be infected.  I just want you to see how surreal this disease is in our community.  I remember when I just graduated high school and like many girls my age I was attracted to the flyest guy with the flyest car and the flyest gear.  There was this one guy and I will just say the name "Mike" to not put his business out there.  Well, Mike used to try and talk to me all the time.  He was very handsome, drove a foreign car, dressed really nice, and appeared to have a lot of money.  Although, "HIS" things were nice and tempting.  If you noticed I emphasized "HIS" because that's who his worldly processions belonged to.  I never took Mike up on his many advances because for some reason I had no interest in him at all.  I thank God so much because one month later I found out that Mike was HIV positive and spread the disease to many young girls in our neighborhood intentionally.  So, I say that to say  how easily it is to be infected.  In 2006, Panache reported an article about an entertainer that tested HIV positive and was still sleeping with women unprotected.  Wendy Williams also elaborated without mentioning names of a rapper being HIV positive.  That right there proves to you that the disease doesn't discriminate.  Posted below is an article from Panache about a HIV positive black woman was married to a man that not only did he know he was infected but, his family did as well.  However, either him nor his family thought enough of Regina Grant to inform her of their family secret. Please, read this article and pass it on.  Thank you so much for visiting and may you be blessed forever.
AIDS Source: Jason B. Johnson @ The SF Chronicle/Panache ReportNIGHTMARE:
A large picture of Regina Grant's four children and newly born grandchild hangs on a wall of her Treasure Island drug treatment center office. To her, the photograph symbolizes the success of her struggle to overcome a decade of heavy drug use fueled by the revelation, almost two decades ago, that she was HIV-positive.
Grant's drug abuse began in 1990, after doctors informed her she had tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But over the past six years, Grant has been drug-free and come to grips with her HIV-positive status. Her story reflects the wider struggle of the nation's African American community with HIV/AIDS.
AIDS is now the No. 1 killer of black women between the ages of 24 and 34. In the early 1990s, ignorance about the disease was high among African Americans. For Grant, it was something only gay men got. Growing up in Oakland, Grant and her friends didn't know or talk much about HIV or the dangers of unprotected sex.
"Back then, the worst thing you could get was gonorrhea or crabs," she said during a recent interview.
Grant was infected as the result of a one-night stand with a man. She believes the man, who has since died, didn't know he had the virus at the time. It was about a year later when she was seven months pregnant and had gone into premature labor that she was diagnosed at a local hospital.
"I just didn't believe it," Grant said. "I didn't think about it. I didn't go to the doctor, except for prenatal visits. I didn't address the issue at all. I thought I was going to die. I had a true death sentence."
Grant was shocked, but went on to deliver a healthy HIV-free son. But after the child was born, she began slipping deeper into drug and alcohol use. Her crack cocaine habit grew stronger, and alcohol blurred the time between fixes.
"All me and my friends talked about was dope, and how we could get more," she said. "We didn't read any papers, we didn't watch TV. It was every day. It started off as all addicts, recreational. Then it took off to where it was every day."
According to data from the Alameda County Public Health Department, the number of AIDS cases among women rose steadily from the 1990s through 2003. In 1999, the county declared an AIDS state of emergency. The California State Office of AIDS estimates that about 40,000 Californians are HIV-positive and don't know it. In Alameda County, African Americans represent almost half of the total HIV cases reported from 2002 to 2005, with the majority coming from Oakland, according to data from the Alameda County Department of Public Health.
As her addiction grew, Grant's control of things like taking care of herself and two children faltered. Despite being HIV-positive, she became pregnant with her third child, who was also born free of the virus. Grant said she was still in denial when she got pregnant with her third child.
The child's birth didn't force her back to reality; instead, Grant's drug use only intensified. She and her children were living in a cramped apartment, and she was unable to keep up with the bills.
"The water got cut off, then the phone. (I was) burning clothes in my fireplace to keep warm," she said. "Eventually I became homeless."
Near the end of her decade of drug use, Grant was unable to care for her three children. She became homeless for three months during the worst of her addiction and began prostituting herself because she didn't have any money or a place to live.
Grant's mother and grandmother took charge of her children when it was clear she was out of control, something she appreciates. But she recalls how fears about HIV affected her relationships with family members.
"When I first found out, I can remember my grandmother made me eat off my own knife, fork, plate," Grant said. "I had to spray the toilet with Clorox after I used the ballroom. I lived in this isolated box, all alone. I had my little rag and I would keep it under the sink, and I would spray the toilet."
It was while she was homeless and almost constantly high that Grant became pregnant with her fourth child. She was so out of it mentally that she didn't really know the father.
It was during her fourth pregnancy that Grant realized how far she'd fallen. She fought to stay clean to make sure her child was born healthy and then began the long road to recovery that included a lengthy stay at a detox center. All four of Grant's children know about her past drug addiction. She told her youngest son about her HIV-positive status about a year ago.
Grant's journey back to sobriety and honesty about HIV made her an inspiration to friends and family.
Grant talks regularly to young people, stressing the importance of condom use. She said young people are still tempted to have unprotected sex, despite the devastation AIDS has had, especially on the African American community.

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