I am a happy person, but it hasn’t always been like this. I was rebellious. I didn’t want to take the medication. I was sick with AIDS, bedridden, in a wheelchair. I almost died but didn’t, thanks to my will to live, the Brazilian Unified Health Care System, and the medications. I have trouble with speech and memory loss. What bothers me the most is forgetting things from my past. It’s not easy to live like this.

The most difficult moment of my life was discovering that I was pregnant, and I had HIV. I suffered for months. I even tried to have an abortion, but the doctor said there was no need for one, that I was very sick and the baby wouldn’t survive. To my surprise and to the surprise of all, the baby was born. He was sick, but in time I found out he was HIV-negative. My greatest joy was when I opened the result of my son’s exam and there it was, “negative.” I cried. I laughed. I ran and told my friends. And then everyone cried and laughed with me. It was the greatest emotion I have felt in all my life.

My son is a teenager now and recently has suffered prejudice at school. In recent years, I have suffered serious prejudice as well, as a result of which I have been hiding myself. I could not protest without showing my face, so I went quiet. It is so annoying to have to hide.

My message to my son is that I don’t want AIDS to cause such discomfort in people. I want my son to live in a better world. The people I know did not go looking for AIDS. AIDS showed up in their lives. I have heard of people who were killed for having AIDS, for being gay. We cannot go on in a world like this.