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Dec 1, 2009

Living With HIV a Personal Stories

In Honor of World Aids Day, I want to post a personal story from women how are survivors, living with HIV/AIDS. Please read on:

Teniecka Hannah

As told to Erika Nelson:

Teniecka, let's start at the beginning. How did you find out you were HIV positive?

I found out I was HIV positive when I went to go visit my family in another state. I had what I thought was a sore throat. I went to the doctors and they said I had esophageal thrush. I was wondering what that was and the doctor told me it was a yeast infection of the throat. After running the test they told me that I was HIV positive.

What state were you in? You were visiting your family?

Yes. I was visiting my parents, and they were in Missouri.

This was on a military base? Is that right?

Yes, it was on a military base.

Once you tested positive, what did you do?

When they gave me the news as to my results being HIV positive I really didn't do too much. Actually, when the man told me I was positive I just said, "OK."

Do you know how you were infected?

Yes. I was infected by my boyfriend of two years in a long-term, monogamous relationship -- [a relationship] that I thought was monogamous. Actually, I found out he was married, with children.

How old were you when you started seeing your boyfriend? How did you start dating?

I was nineteen when I met him. He claimed that he was 27, but it turned out that he was really 41. I met him while working at a retail clothing store. He was a new employee. One day we started talking in the break room. He told me he was single and asked if I would be interested in dating. I said yes. The relationship started out with us going to the movies, the mall and to dinner. That's how we started getting involved with each other. Anyway, no protection was ever used.

How did you find out he was married?

I found out he was married when I went to visit him and I heard a woman's voice in the background. I had gone to my boyfriend's place unexpectedly for the simple fact that I thought it would be a nice surprise. When I rang the doorbell and he answered, I heard a female voice ask him who it was. He replied, "A girl scout." I asked him who that was. He just ignored my question and told me I had to leave. I found out later that she was his wife because she found a way to contact me. His wife found out I was with him because I had given him some Christmas gifts with my name on them.

Did he ever acknowledge having HIV?

No. He never did acknowledge having HIV and I never found out if the wife was positive either.

What did you say to him when you found out you had HIV?

Well, I had one encounter with him, a telephone call. I told him, "I'm HIV positive -- I just got my result recently and I'm HIV positive."

What he said was, "Are you on medicine? What are the doctors doing?" He began to argue with me and really put blame on me, like I gave it to him, that it was my fault that I was HIV positive.

What did you say?

Well, we were on our last legs. The relationship was going down anyway, so after that last conversation with him, I had no other contact with him in any way, shape or form.

Please click here to read the rest of the interview.

I found out in 1997 that I was infected. I'd been with my husband since 1984 in what I thought was a monogamous relationship. It wasn't. This I only found out about 4 years ago. My siblings knew the whole time and said nothing. He had me believe he got it from a blood transfusion in 1990. His double life was quite sordid and I'm sure there are things I will never know. My kidneys failed because of HIV. He was never a kind person and we have no relationship other than co-parenting. I've had my transplant for one year now and have applied to nursing school. As soon as I can take care of myself I am outta here. By then our daughter will be in college. I was sheltered growing up and very naive. I wasn't allowed to date and only tried sex a couple of times in my early 20s. Protection was used each time. I let this person bully me into a relationship and marriage. Growing up in an abusive, mentally unstable home, it seem perfectly normal that I shouldn't be happy. I have raised a strong daughter. She knows what her father did. I pray she will marry for love and go through her relationships with her eyes wide open.

God Bless you all

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