Rhia shares her story to raise awareness amongst “many black women like me who ignorantly continue to trust the wrong men with our bodies but who don’t get tested”

I personally used sex as a means of self medicating. Whenever things were going bad in my life I would always turn to this particular guy and I would use him to fill the void of whatever I was lacking at the time. No matter what was going on I knew I could always go back to him for sex and that it would take my mind off of whatever problems I was going through.One of the main issues I was going through is self esteem/self worth issues. Something I’m still struggling with now. I have issues validating myself worth outside of a man. So if there’s no man present in my life I feel worthless, I doubt everything about myself. The only way to keep this particular man around was through sex. Period. he wasn’t dealing with me if I wasn’t having sex and it always seemed like such a small price to pay to ultimately feel better about myself.




He took my virginity at 19, so he was like my comfort place. The guy is 4 years older. Our sexual encounters were pretty frequent. Nothing really was good about the relationship. He’s abusive both emotionally & physically. The only reason I continued to deal with him was because I honestly felt like what else could I do. Yeah I knew it was possible to get somebody else but in 3/4 years I hadn’t found anybody else so I was stuck in that situation. Dealing with him always left me feeling low, but I’d rather feel low with somebody sleeping next to me than to feel low and sleep alone which would make me feel worse.

Almost each and every time I had sex with him I would get a STI; particularly chlamydia or gonorrhea but since it was treatable ( yes I know it’s dumb ) I would ignore that as a warning sign to leave him and stayed because the sex was good. Last year around December, I had gotten sick and I ended up having shingles. My family was concerned because what 23 year old has shingles?


I just so happen during this time period to be having sex with him prepared as always for the usual chlamydia/gonorrhea that would come along. But this time it was much worse. On March 5th he gave me chlamydia, I got treated but was still feeling sick and then on March 30th I received my positive HIV results.


Now at 24 due to using sex as self medication, I now have an incurable immunodeficiency that I will live with for the rest of my life. I feel like this is God’s way of punishing me for my actions.


My parents and my aunt know of my status. Two of my close friends know my status. Everyone is being very supportive throughout this whole ordeal. They’ve all done their own research about the disease so it seems like I’m not going through it alone because they understand certain words/phrases that are specific to HIV such as a viral load/CD4 count etc etc.
My medicine is around $3600 but thanks to my mother’s amazing insurance my Copay is only $40.


My story is one that needs to be out there! I’m a young 24 year old black woman who honestly thought HIV couldn’t happen to me. I lived as though I was untouchable and it has ultimately costed me my life. Most of us truly believe we’re invincible when we’re not.

Yes there are many advancements with medication and all of that, but I’ve limited myself in ways that I could never dream of; such as getting a life insurance policy. Do you know how hard it is to get a life insurance policy as a HIV Positive person? Or having a HIV negative child. Even though its possible they might not, there’s still a risk that my negligent behavior will affect any child I have. Or having a romantic relationship because there is still a huge stigma with HIV; and if a negative person has the option, why would they choose a positive person. It’s just so many things that have changed for the worst.

As of right now I am in therapy trying to learn how to cope but I recently stopped going. I was going to church learning how to cope but I stopped going to church as well. I’m really at a standstill in my life. I jump back and fourth between feeling worthless and trying to feel like I’m strong and can overcome this. There are many days I honestly just want to slit my wrist and get it over with but then I bring myself back down by realizing that suicide doesn’t take away pain it just transfers it from me to those closest to me. As far as my relationship with men, that’s been tough because at first I honestly just wanted to infect any and everybody who wanted to come in contact with me because even though I couldn’t find a man who wanted a relationship with me there is no shortage of men who want to sleep with me; so since I feel it’s a man’s fault, I want all of them to suffer like how I’m suffering. But I realise that’s horrible and I can’t knowingly : 1, ruin somebody else’s life because of my issues and 2, Knowingly commit a felony. As far as my relationship with the man that infected me he wants to get married now because from the way he sees it who’s gonna want either of us now, since we both have HIV.
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