Janice (34)

telephonist/receptionist
boyfriend: 3 months
children: 2 daughters (5 and 14)
HIV+: 9 years
HIV meds: 6 years
viral load: undetectable
CD4-cell count: 370

I don’t want to make a secret of it
Nine years ago, my boyfriend because seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. There it became clear he had AIDS. He passed away shortly thereafter. It turned out I also had HIV. I was in shock. I thought I’d soon die too, just as my boyfriend had. The news about my boyfriend and me spread like wildfire through the community. Everyone knew right away what was going on. Even today, I still don’t know how we got it. I never had had an affair and he never said anything about that either. Luckily, my daughter didn’t have HIV.

I soon went to a meeting for HIV-positive women of Surinamese, African and Antillean descent. I gained power from hearing their stories. If they had already been living with HIV for ten years and looked that good, I could do it too! That helped me to accept it quickly. I don’t know how I would have survived otherwise. I want to live as honestly as possible with my HIV. I don’t want to make a secret of it.

Three years later, I had a new boyfriend and I became pregnant. He didn’t think I should have a child with my HIV. But in the hospital they said there was a good chance my baby would be healthy. I went for it. Then my relationship broke up. A TV programme was made about my pregnancy and delivery. Luckily, my child is healthy.

Three months ago, I started a relationship with a 49-year-old Surinamese man. He is very sweet. We see each other every day. Younger men don’t accept my HIV. That’s why I went for an older man. He was shocked when I told him about it, right away in the first week. At first he didn’t want to believe it. It made me start crying and then he started crying too: ‘Why does a beautiful girl like you have HIV?’ I decided: okay, I’m ready for this. We’re very close. We still haven’t had sex. He says he’s not ready for that yet. He has an anxious feeling about it because of my HIV. He knows almost nothing about it.

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