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In the spring of 1993, I remember my mother saying to me that I coulden't kiss my sister or change her dipers because she was sick (I was 9 years old, my baby sister was 2). Sometime later my mother sat me down and said that she needed to speak to me, to tell me something. First, she made me promise not to cry, no matter what. I said okay, knowing that something was up. That was when she told me that she, Philane(my sister), and her boyfriend, my sister's father, was HIV positive, and that I wasn't. I didn't cry. It was one of the hardest things i think I ever did, was to hold back the tears so my mother wouldn't hurt.

When my mother found out about their status, we were on pins and needles. Before 1993, there wasn't that much out about HIV/AIDS. Then, with the expanding definition of the virus, we learned more. Anyway, I was tested again three months later, then three months after that. This pattern went on for a year, then it was every six months for years after that. Finally, I was tested every year. Now as a 20 year old mother and college student living on my own, away from my mother and sister, and being safe with myself concerning my partner, I still choose to be tested every 18-24 months.
I am working on a speech for a college class. It's a persuasive speech. My goal is to have everyone in my class to get tested. I have dealt with 11 years of seeing my mother getting so sick that she was pretty much in a coma. There have been times that we didn't think that she'd make it (even though we've known about their positive resaults for 11 years, my sister is now 13 and was born positive, and my mother was infected in 1989, so about 14 years, 31/2 years unmedicated, with the virus taking it's toll on their bodies). I am ashamed to say that when it was really bad, I actually wished that she would die so that she wouldn't be in anymore pain. But she pulls through every time. My sister , after 13 years, is undetectable, and my mother, aftter so many times of being so close to the end, is close to beeing undetectable.
Even with this good turn around, we are jumpy. Every time they get sick, I always worry, is it going to turn into pnemonia?, What if her thrush get's so bad that she suffocates (which has almost happened)?, what if she get's a cut and it get's infected?, Will it go to her heart or her brain?

Sent via Email - December 4, 2003. Gloversville, N.Y, USA.

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