Julie and her son Anthony. (Photo: EGPAF, 2012)
My name is Julie, and I am a 25-year-old full time mom.
I was born HIV-positive in 1987 after my mother had unknowingly acquired the virus through a blood transfusion. She did not learn that she was HIV-positive until after she became pregnant with me.
My mother passed away from AIDS when I was four years old. I was adopted by my grandparents and my life seemed normal until I reached middle school. It was during that time, and throughout high school, where I experienced the prejudice and stigma too often felt by those living with HIV. I was mocked and teased by my peers because I was open about my status. But despite their cruel words and insults, I learned to use my experience to help myself, and others like me.
I began working with EGPAF to educate children and young adults about pediatric AIDS. I did it so my peers would understand more about the disease, and so other HIV-positive youth wouldn’t have to endure the emotional trauma that I experienced. I did it so that other kids would have a better chance than me.
EGPAF helped me not only educate others, but connected me with resources and people my age who also are affected by the disease. These people have been my close friends and “family” for more than a decade.
Most importantly, because of the medications and services that EGPAF helped to create and share with the world, I was able to become pregnant. Today, I have an HIV-negative son. Like so many other HIV-positive pregnant women around the world, I get to experience a healthy, happy, beautiful baby boy without the worry that he will be infected with HIV.
However, there are still too many mothers around the world who haven’t yet received this gift. In some cases, access to prevention services is unavailable. In others, many women don’t even know that prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is possible.
I am proof that an HIV-positive child can grow to adulthood and live a healthy life. My son is proof that HIV-positive mothers can have healthy babies. I will continue to fight alongside EGPAF, sharing my story and these incredible opportunities with the families around the world who need them most.
- Watch a video of Julie testifying at a White House Town Hall meeting in Columbia, South Carolina about the importance of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.