As we usher in the 25th annual World AIDS Day, many in the activism community say that aside from HIV/AIDS education, stigma is the biggest problem facing those with the disease today. In response, Washington, D.C., health worker Sabrina Heard, who is HIV positive, shared her story with the Huffington Post about learning she’d contracted the disease while pregnant and abusing crack cocaine.
I had a daughter who was about 9 or 10, another daughter who was about 6, and then here comes a baby. I went to the hospital because I was having complications with my pregnancy. I didn’t necessarily have prenatal care and at the time they stated that I would have to have a C-section. A date was set and even though I had been to the hospital maybe four or five months before, it wasn’t until I actually came in for birth that I was informed about my HIV status.
It was 1989 so they had a big neon paper on the door warning workers to be careful about bodily fluids. I was in a remote corner of the hospital and when they had to come in and take blood, nurses would be putting on two and three pairs of rubber gloves and wearing surgical masks. When you’d push the button for the nurse to come, they weren’t all that attentive. That was the first sign in my brain that something was wrong.
I really didn’t pay it a lot of attention, because when I got the diagnosis, it had pretty much numbed me. I could say it was a delayed reaction; I was in a very thick denial. I was not quite 35; I didn’t have any knowledge; I didn’t have anything. I was smoking crack at the time, so I wasn’t feeling anything either. I was in a fantasy mentally, with no knowledge about the devastation of this disease. I wasn’t looking at the news and there weren’t a lot of people talking about it — at least not in my circle, so I wasn’t talking about it either.
Read more at the Huffington Post.