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June 5th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

AIDS baby: 'I allow HIV to live with me'

By the time Lolisa Gibson found out she was HIV-positive, the disease had already progressed to AIDS.  She decided to educate herself about the disease and take the necessary medications.  Now she wants to educate others about the disease too.  She has written a memoir, "The Way I See It," which chronicles her life before and after her diagnosis.  Lolisa is a guest blogger on The Chart today.

If someone stopped me eight years ago and asked me what HIV was, I would have without a doubt walked right past them. I knew nothing about HIV and didn’t think I needed to. Now, seven years after finding out that I was HIV positive and that was most likely born with the virus that I didn’t even think existed in my world, I’m proud to say that if someone asked me about the human  immunodeficiency virus today, I can tell them close to everything there is to know about it.

I NEVER say that I’m living with HIV - I am HIV positive but I allow HIV to live with me.  As a 24-year-old HIV positive female who is not only a daughter and sister but also a mother and fiancée, I don’t feel like HIV is the most important thing in my life. I live to see the smile on my son’s face and watch him grow more day by day.  HIV wants to cause me stress and take the best of me, however when it comes to HIV my best is not available. When it came to disclosing my status to the ones I love most, it was the hardest obstacle that HIV has ever been able to throw my way.

Now that I have shared my positive status to not only my loved ones but also to an unknown number of people around the world, I feel like I will not stop speaking about the importance of the virus until it becomes a memory of my past. Now 30 years after the first HIV case was reported, I feel like it’s important to educate anyone who will listen about the importance of the virus because it's way closer to home than anyone who is not educated may think.

Timeline: 30 years of AIDS moments to remember

One of the first things that made me realize that more had to be done was when I found out one of the main age groups of new HIV infections are young people ages 13-24.  At the time of my diagnosis I was 17, so this age group was everyone that was in my circle, everyone that I loved and cared about. I knew that if I knew nothing about HIV before then, neither did they and I could not sleep knowing that something so serious was right at the front door and nothing was being done about it.

At that moment, I realized that I would be the one to teach the ones who meant the most to me about what this thing called HIV was.  Now, I have a son and fiancé who are both HIV negative, and a great amount of supporters who find motivation in my words and actions. I know that by speaking loud and sharing my story, I have the power to change the world and provide others with the tools they need to prevent themselves from becoming HIV positive.  I have the power to motivate other people who are HIV positive to continue living life and reaching any dream they may have had before their testing.

I have the voice that I couldn’t find when I was first told that I was HIV positive on Tuesday, January 20, 2004.

To learn how you can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS, check out CNN's Impact Your World.

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Filed under: HIV/AIDS

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Punchline

    It is almost inconceivable why someone with HIV would deliberately get pregnant.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • finngal

      Why wouldn't she get pregnant? It is possible to be HIV positive and have an HIV negative baby (as you can determine from her situation – her baby is HIV negative).

      June 6, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • tyrexden

      if on effective medication, the chances of passing it on to the baby is less than 2%

      June 6, 2011 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • Love 1st

      Who do you think you are to judge another human being? It is her God given right to create life HIV positive or not. Furthermore, about Scott's ignorant comment regarding African-American women, I wish people would stop stereo-typing one another and actually learn the truth first hand. If Scott knew any Africa-American families personally, he would know better. Shame on him for spreading fallacies.

      June 6, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • MEEKA

      @ Scott why do you assume she's African American. Unfortunately, when I read this story I assumed she wasn't African American because many of us aren't afforded the best health care to live with healthfully live with HIV. This doesn't happen very much in the African American community.

      June 6, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • epona30

      OMG! Look at this you guys. God has graced us with his presence on a CNN sound off!

      June 6, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      My only question about "why she would get pregnant" is why she would expose her HIV Negative fiancee to HIV.

      That man is more stupid then she is. and when they both get HIV, what? They leave an orphan? Thats just peachy. Her "god given right to reproduce" my butt. Its irresponsible.

      June 6, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
    • Pretty Simple

      @Punchline...She conceives it, thus it's simply conceivable.

      June 6, 2011 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Dole

      @Duh: According to the video, she didn't intentionally expose the father to HIV, the condom broke. Additionally, the disease of both her and her mother seem well controlled, and so there is no reason to assume the child will be without a mother any sooner than most children. You seem to be living in 1981.

      June 6, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
    • zbzb

      The chances of getting an HIV positive child from a HIV positive mother are less than having a baby with downs. Not that downs is any where close to HIV, but given proper medication there is a 98% chance that the baby will be HIV -ve and through methods such as sperm washing, that 2% chance could also get lower.

      June 7, 2011 at 01:07 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I know someone stated that the chances of passing HIV to your child while on medication is roughly 2%, how do you think she would have felt if her child ended up being HIV positive? How would the child feel toward his or her mother in response? I'm not trying to imply anything, but its definitely something to think about.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
  2. Charles Gilman

    Why, she's not just sure, she's HIV positive.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Welcome to Reality

      aaaahahahaha. Great episode!

      June 6, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse |
  3. Eve

    @Scott...she is not "typical" of African American women. "Most" fathers are not absent. You just want to stereotype an entire race of people. Get a life.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Angie

    Punchline, watch the video. The pregnancy was unintentional - it states their condom failed once, and to her surprise she got pregnant. I think it is wonderful how the physicians took such caution, providing her with antiviral meds, then providing the newborn with antiviral meds, resulting in an HIV-free baby. I wish all would have such great care, especially in Africa where so many mothers are passing on the HIV-virus to their babies.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. finngal

    @Scott....aside from your broad racial stereotypes, how can you tell that this woman is "highly uneducated" and "without much of a family upbringing"?

    June 6, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. kleiim

    That's interesting that "she allows HIV to live with her", didn't think you had much of a choice once you have it...

    June 6, 2011 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Pegger

    kleiim
    Of course... but what she is referring to is just a state of mind! Positive thinking.

    June 6, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. me

    Good for her– she is living her life to the fullest!

    June 6, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Fiona

    How could any 16-year-old, eight years ago, know "nothing about HIV and didn’t think (she) needed to"? That tells me this young woman is not too bright. Her decision to go ahead and have a child (at such a young age, too) confirms this. Why take the risk? Stupid and selfish.

    June 6, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wooze

      @Fiona – most teenagers know little about STDs. It's not a question of intelligence (you need only listen to her speak to know she's bright) but of the invincibility of youth (and the lack of good community health programs that would provide people with adequate information). And she didn't intentionally get pregnant, she simply chose not to terminate an unintended pregnancy. Are you suggesting she had an obligation to terminate her pregnancy? She doesn't seem stupid or selfish to me – she did everything she could to protect her child and she's doing her best to give back to her community.

      June 7, 2011 at 00:12 | Report abuse |
  10. eze

    The joys of Denial

    She's living with HIV because she caught a virus that has no cure, not because she allows it to live with her. Just because she is comfortable with her HIV status doesn't mean she has a choice. Sounds like she's led a rather ignorant life.

    June 6, 2011 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Name

      @eze She "caught" HIV? are you serious?? The joys of ignorance...

      June 7, 2011 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Yeah, that was annoying to read. Stop being in denial. You aren't allowing HIV to live with you. You don't have a choice in the matter. Honestly saying that you allow it to live with you is even worse. You are saying that you have a choice and then you choose to have HIV. That's just stupid. No one would choose to have HIV. I'm glad that you are able to live a happy life, but don't act like you wouldn't rather be HIV negative.

      June 7, 2011 at 02:28 | Report abuse |
  11. POZ too

    Thank you for speaking out and please don't stop. I saw someone talking in a TV interview this week about how no one is looking for a cure for HIV because there is too much profit for the pharmaceutical industry. Her opinion was that the more people who get infected and live compromised lives, the better it is for business! That's so not right. I'm also dismayed that young people in the age bracket you describe have this "HIV/AIDS is so "ast century" outlook. As someone who is Positive but looks healthy, I can attest to how discrimination still exists and how it can impede your normal health care for other things like normal doctor care for other health problems that might crop up and even dentistry. The stigma persists. I had to go to the ER and as soon as the in-take nurse heard I was Positive, her whole tone changed, becoming very accusatory. Share it with everyone your age. Use protection and limit your number of partners to people you've known for a while. Keep protection on you so it's readily available if you find you are under the influence and decide to go home with someone. Peace.

    June 7, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Me

    Hmm only a few things to say.
    1. Yeah it wasnt very smart to try to have a kid while HIV positive. Especially when the problem w/ the number of people w/ AIDS is spiking
    2. I respect her in the fact that she said HIV is living with her not she's living w/ HIV. Good mind set.
    3. But on the other hand there are "vaccines" now a days that protect you and prevent HIV. (Article from "The Scientist")
    4. Be safe and dont spread anymore of this stupid Virus

    June 27, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dougles

    Hola,

    Que palabras... La idea fenomenal, brillante
    http://www.ddl17.com/
    Dougles

    August 4, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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