My reaction twelve years ago, when I learned I was HIV-positive, was to feel I had been so stupid, because I had the information and didn’t use it. I played with fire and looked at the result.

My lover also turned out to be HIV-positive. We didn’t reproach one another, but we made a pact to let the disease advance unimpeded. Each of us wanted a quick death, with little suffering. It was a fatalistic decision made out of fear. But we were wrong, because by 1996 there were new treatments. We took the drugs and we’re still here.

I was originally a medical transcriber, but I now work as a clinical file clerk at the National Institute of Nutrition. At the Institute, I provide support and information to people who do not know what to do when they come in for HIV treatment. I facilitate their admission to the hospital and help them get quick medical care.

Being sound and healthy helps me to encourage people: “Don’t give up so easily. Just think, you can be as healthy as I am.” There are people who have died from ignorance, from having a fatalistic attitude, from not taking HIV as just a new step and opportunity in life. These people have to be told that there is still a long road to go, that they have many years ahead of them."