HIV-positive woman shares her story to raise awareness
“It was like a shell, like a hermit crab shell. You just want to be hidden or whatnot because I didn’t understand HIV,” Soto said.
In addition to dealing with the virus that causes AIDS, Soto also had another serious health issue: multiple sclerosis.
“It messes with my walking ability, but I wake up each morning with a ‘blessed and thank you to God,'” she said.
Feeling lost, Soto was referred to Newly Empowered Women, a facility that helped her move on with her life.
“I’m very proud of her. I’m proud of the fact that this program was able to make a difference in her life,” Michelle Durham, executive director of BEAT AIDS, a nonprofit organization, said.
Durham said BEAT AIDS is one of several services available at Newly Empowered Women. Other services include meditation, treatment classes and peer support.
“(It) turns out HIV does not discriminate — not by age, gender, race,” Durham said.
Durham said many women who come to the facility are referrals or walk-ins. Some of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual abuse or neglect.
Soto said without the support team, she never would have made it.
“There’s so much support out there for women or men who have this. It’s not what we asked for, but how we live it,” Soto said.
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