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

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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