I am thirty-nine and have been living with HIV for fifteen years. When I received the diagnosis, I felt like I was already dying. I thought of my three children and imagined I was losing them. I was the typical downtrodden housewife. I had endured my husband’s machismo and bisexuality, but I said to myself: “Silvia, you have to move on. You can’t just stand still, waiting for death to come.”
Over time, I have become an activist, helping people at the hospital. I work mostly with women, building on my own experience as a bold, fighting woman. When I negotiate with authorities at the hospital, I often tell them, “Either you stick to your word or I’ll sue you.” That is what gives me strength, fighting for the rights of people living with HIV.
I photographed myself alone and with my children because they give me hope. And I took one photo of a candle with the HIV symbol because, in the past fifteen years, I have seen a lot of people die. I send them light so they can rest.
And to tell you the truth, I am very happy, for I now understand HIV and have myself as the best reason for living.