National HIV Long Term Survivor's Awareness Day

I was diagnosed in 2003. I was unaware of the countless others diagnosed prior to me, those that didn’t have the chance to fight to be here today. My heart mourns them even when I celebrate the victories of U=U, HIV Criminalization laws being overturned or new treatments that prolong life are developed. I fight on with their lives as my platform so that their living won’t be in vain. This blog entry is dedicated to all of us still here, still fighting, still surviving, surviving still. (I love you Jesús).

June 5, 2019


Dear Champion,

Dear Bad-Ass,

Dear Hellraiser,

Dear Advocate,

Dear Survivor…

DEAR YOU,


However you describe and define yourself, you are here.


You have overcome a life-transitioning diagnosis. You have faced stigma and stared it down to the nothingness that it’s supposed to be. You have championed the times of medical adherence challenges. You survived Reagan and AZT. You will survive Trump and the elections of 2020. You have kept your eyes open in spite of the blinders society wears to very existence you behold. You have risen above, stood on top, pushed through and carried on.


And even for those moments or days where you didn’t show up as your best or felt that you couldn’t. You did.


The day you received your diagnosis. The first time you confided your status to a loved one. And the second time, and the third and so on. The day you started your treatment and didn’t know how you were going to make it like this for the rest of your life. The day you woke up and taking your meds was a little less bothersome. The day you reached undetectable. The day you realized you are more than your diagnosis. The day you accepted that your dreams were not infected. The day you looked at your reflection and didn’t cry.


There are shoulders of greatness that you stand upon; there are shadows of stigma you’ve emerged from. There are avenues of innovation and boulevards of dreams. There is a journey to be traveled and you my beloved friend are here to pave the way.


Your history is embedded in hope. Your legacy is empowered by living your truths. Your victories are anchored by simply showing up and living day by day. Your viral load doesn’t define you. This diagnosis doesn’t delay you. But this day, dear long term survivor - celebrates you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for not just surviving, but thriving.


Sincerely,

IMAGE: Woman smiling with words in a frame around her face Long Term Treatment Works, Kamaria Laffrey 16 Year Survivor, HIV Survivor  Graphic Design Credit - Zee Strong of the  Digital Living Quilt

IMAGE: Woman smiling with words in a frame around her face Long Term Treatment Works, Kamaria Laffrey 16 Year Survivor, HIV Survivor

Graphic Design Credit - Zee Strong of the Digital Living Quilt