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World AIDS Day: starting a family after HIV diagnosis

12/01/2014 07:26 EST | Updated 01/31/2015 05:59 EST
HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence it was 20 years ago, and people living with the virus are now able to hold down jobs and have families.

On December 1, the world marks World AIDS Day and in Vancouver, The Early Edition's Rick Cluff spoke to a patient of the Oak Tree Clinic, which caters to women with HIV/AIDS and their families.

The woman was diagnosed with AIDS in 2010. Since her diagnosis, she has got married, and a year ago, she gave birth to a daughter, who is HIV-negative.

The CBC agreed not to use her real name to protect her family. Here, she shares her experiences - of diagnosis, starting a family and the stigma she feels.

Receiving the diagnosis

"It was 2 days before my birthday, and the doctor kind of just walked in and said 'Hey, you have AIDS,' and the world stopped. Everything just began to reel around me."

"When I first found out, it was mostly me in the fetal position for hours and days. I didn't want to go outside, I didn't want to talk to anyone. You feel dirty, you feel gross, you don't want people to look at you, or touch you."

Telling family and friends

"It kind of takes everything out of me when I have to tell someone new."

"My emotions would attack my body and I was physically quite ill every time I would have to tell someone. I'd feel like it was a weight off me, but then they would cry on my shoulder."

The toll on a relationship

"I was engaged, and he became more my caregiver type person as opposed to partners that we really were. We were so in love, and all of a sudden, I was in a ball and crying, and he became slightly more of a father-type caregiver figure."

"It took us a long time to get our relationship back to where he was my partner and my best friend again."

"Personally, I felt very alone, whether I had a partner or not. It was just me. I felt like I was completely on my own, even though I did have someone there."

Starting a family

"If you're on your meds, and you take them adamantly, and you do all the right things, your body can actually produce a perfectly healthy child."

Stigma associated with being HIV positive

"People don't know that regular people that came from a pretty normal background all of a sudden, through sexual transmission or something else, you're slapped with HIV."

"Now people think and judge, 'They must be a drug addict, they must be from the streets, they must be dirty, they must be a bad person,' and it's not that at all."

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