I’m a young 24 year old black woman who honestly thought HIV couldn’t happen to me

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.
Leave your comments below


  1. Gabriella Chatman
    13th July 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! There are many women (young and old) who are currently battling with low self-esteem and self worth. I comend you for sharing your story and so proud of you for not allowing yourself to “get even.”
    Your status does not have to be your ending. This could truly be your beginning, an awesome way to reach women who are currently self medicating with sex who believes that the worst thing that can come from sex is a baby or a cure able STD.

    Girl turn this water into wine, this slice of bread into loaves of bread and feed the young women of today by educating them/us.
    I look forward to hearing more from you!

    Rise up,
    Gabriella Chatman

    • Ann
      15th July 2017 / 6:31 am

      I don’t understand the three reading of the test … ps keep the faith god is with yu go to church the best medicine you can have is him trust me god is. Not punishing yo but he lets this happend so we learn AND WE YOU PUT YOUR SELF THERE HE IS MERCIFUL AND FORGIVES YOU but he also CAN CURE YOU

  2. Coco
    13th July 2017 / 8:20 pm

    Hey, I don’t usually comments on post but while reading this I could not not comment!
    First thanks for sharing and bringing awareness to this.
    Second: PLEASE do NOT go back to that man nor marry him!
    He didn’t see your worth then and he’s not going to see it now or in the future! You deserve much more!!
    I know I don’t know you but one thing I want to say is that the best thing you can do for yourself right now is learn to love yourself while single. It might be easier said than done but it doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to look at yourself and love you as long as you get there.
    At the end of it, other people’s opinions of you won’t change anything about how much you value yourself.

    Also,we live and learn! Such a courageous thing to share your story and wanting to bring awareness to this!
    You’ve still got life ahead of you and I believe many more lives to touch! Please don’t think about how life is going to look like and focus on today- Step by step you’ll get there! God is still with you!

    Wish you all the best courageous woman!

  3. Xoxo
    13th July 2017 / 9:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your story has truly spoken to my soul. A wake up for me. Know that this is not a punishment. God punishes no one. I use to think the same thing too. You sharing your story means that you are rising above it all. God made you a beautiful creature and you are an inspiration to us that can relate. I appreciate you. Thank you so much!! Keep pressing! Don’t give up! Stay blessed! ❤️

  4. Jamila McDowell
    13th July 2017 / 9:03 pm

    Thank you for being so transparent and I pray that your story helps someone. I also prayer that you begin to feel better as well

  5. Kish
    13th July 2017 / 9:20 pm

    First and foremost…. you are such a strong young women. Thank you for using this situation as a platform to bring light to a situation many people think can’t happen to them. It is real! Your situation is real… and it can happen to anybody. I pray that you be encouraged… that God gives you peace that surpasses all understanding and that this story may save lives.

  6. Tia
    13th July 2017 / 9:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure this took a lot of strength to tell your truth. Your stronger than you may realize. You do not need that man in your life. You should be surrounded by those who actually care for you. Try and ease your way back into church and pray that God guides you through your journey.

  7. Kennedy
    14th July 2017 / 12:47 am

    Not much to say that hasn’t already. Love yourself! We all made grave mistakes in our lives.

  8. Leslie
    14th July 2017 / 1:12 am

    Thank you for sharing. Your story can touch many people not just women. You might not feel strong but you are stronger than what you think. Your life is not a stand still right now, what you just did was standing up for many. I pray that you find something to fill that void you feel. In my eyes you’re almost there. You are still beautiful and you still have a purpose. God bless you!

  9. abby
    14th July 2017 / 2:26 am

    Thank you for having the courage to share this. I’m reading this in the middle of battle with low self esteem/self worth. I pray you find peace in your situation.

  10. Laporcha
    14th July 2017 / 7:01 am

    Wow too God be the Glory transparency is such a courageous flaw I pray God heals and releases every strong hold over your life and may all chains be broken I am a young woman myself and I can relate to using sex as a way to numb pain and/ or self worth although I can’t imagine the agony of contracting the disease I understand you i get it I am now trying to establish a platform for young women / women in general to make self love & worth a movement where we can heal together in love in the eyes of Jesus Christ with no judgment I would love to speak with you !! You keep rising Queen ! Victories can be won !

  11. Ace
    14th July 2017 / 8:38 am

    I feel your pain but blaming some one else for your choices is not the right thing to do. Ypu daif you knew what was going on. But kept going. Why and how is it the mans fault?

    • Rachel
      16th July 2017 / 1:09 pm

      I don’t think she blames him entirely, she acknowledges her actions were also at fault (e.g returning to him after several incidences of STIs etc) but to be fair he also played a major part in this too. Any man who preys on younger, insecure women and ultimately manipulates them into (sexual) compliance is a toxic, narcissistic, emotionally unavailable waste of carbon.

      I’d like to know if the author was able to seek legal advice following her diagnosis? If there’s any chance that he was knowingly infecting her, then that’s a crime in itself and he could be sentenced for it.

      I wish you all the best you brave young woman! Please know that life is far from over for you. Your purpose now should be to work with an HIV/AIDS organisation in your country and do some outreach to other young black women in our communities. Help them, mentor them, educate them and prevent them from having to go through this too. Once you find a support network (group therapy with other positive people perhaps?) and your life has a PURPOSE outside of men and sex, you won’t feel so isolated or saddened about your status. My cousin is HIV positive and has a son (he’s negative) but he’s her purpose for getting up every day and striving for better in life. Find yours and I assure you, life will get better.


  12. Paula
    14th July 2017 / 11:06 am

    You’ll get through this, you’ll find your peace. This overwhelming pain will pass. Try to gain confidence in God and his processes again because you can’t find serenity in dealing with issues like this in anything but Christ. He will rebuild your life in a way that will surpass your understanding if you give Him the chance. Never give up, better better days are coming. You sharing this means you have sooo much courage inside, keep finding it everyday. ❤️

  13. Notya
    14th July 2017 / 10:59 pm

    Don’t marry him. You will regret it. Your life is not over, just different challenges to face now. Peace and blessings to you.

  14. Ciel
    15th July 2017 / 4:22 am

    Don’t marry him or communicate with him ever again. The relationship IS abusive toxic and dysfunctional. You have an opportunity to live differently, love yourself, and approach everything differently. That’s a beautiful chance that very few people get. Pray, meditate and ask God to help you forgive him and move forward with your journey. He has no business walking on your joyrney and frankly doesn’t deserve to be in it. I fear that you’ll become his cum dumpster and punching bag and God did not put you on earth to be that fool’s prisoner. He wants us to be free…not enslaved…especially to a person like that.

  15. 15th July 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Stumbled across this post looking for another one but I had to comment. I am 24 years old so I wanted to stop and give you some encouragement. God doesn’t not punish us for anything, there’s no possible way for Him to punish us because He already knows the beginning and the end.. but what He will do is do like you said, give us SIGNS to take a different route than the troubled one that lies ahead. You HAD to go through this very situation to have your TESTIMONY. There’s are SO many young women that needs guidance on celibacy and saving themselves for marriage and God has you in this very situation for a time such as THIS! God is a healer and a comforter, so any hurt or pain you are going through TRUST me that He WILL carry you the WHOLE way. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us “I know the plans I have for you, plans of good and not of evil, a future filled with hope and never disaster!” A man of God Will find you and love you EXACTLY the way that you are because God has created Him specifically for YOU. You WILL bear a child that will be HIV negative, because God will protect your innocent seed! These things will only Happen if you use this situation for the GOOD and not for the bad. Get closer to God, dig deeper into His Word. Educate other young women on how important it is to wait for sex and to love themselves ALWAYS. You will be BLESSED x10 for each soul you save… understand me when I say that, each young lady you help you are SAVING her SOUL. Pray every single night that God removes EVERY soul
    Tie that is attached to you from that man.. break those chains girl and LIVE YOUR LIFE. You only get one, so don’t let any devil in hell determine the rest of it!!

    In the Bible Jesus healed many people with illnesses, you are NO different than anyone who was in the Bible. You have to continue to just have FAITH and lean onto NOBODY else but Him. I will be praying for you my sister!

    • Keys A.
      15th July 2017 / 4:08 pm

      God bless you, sister, for encouraging this sister with the Word and promises from our Father. I am standing with you to pray for our sister who has given this eye-awakening testimony. Watch God continue to work in your life! God bless you both!

  16. Eli
    15th July 2017 / 4:53 pm

    I want to sincerely thank you for this. I NEEDED this. I’m 25, and since I lost my virginity at 18 and my boyfriend left, I too have been self-medicating with sex. There were periods of time where I was very strong and would even have considered myself “celibate”, but there are times as of late that I use sex to fill voids. When I was 22 I found out that I had been exposed to herpes 2. My doctor said if I didn’t exhibit symptoms, I was negative. So I led my normal life and continued to have sex. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I experienced a break-out, and a positive diagnosis. I thought my world would end, and that no man would ever want me. It’s actually been quite opposite, men are still more than willing to be intimate with me, but I believe my actions and promiscuity are what is keeping a husband at bay. Your story is helping me to realize that I need to slow down while God is still giving me the opportunity to. THANK YOU for this, and God bless you. You will be just fine & you are still worthy of the absolute best.

  17. Assata
    16th July 2017 / 2:10 am

    I do not know how you feel and who am I to give advise but I think its ok if sometimes you dont feel like going to therapy or church, god is merciful. I beg you, please do not marry this man. Forgive him and yourself and let him go. If this relationship doesnt make you better its beneath you. And its not that he isnt good enough, its that you are worth more than he can give. Forgive yourself, you are worth it. I wish you endless love, light and great health.

  18. Bri
    16th July 2017 / 10:32 am

    I don’t usually post on blog comments, but I felt to do so for your story. First I’d like to thank you sharing your story and applaud you for stepping out on the strength it must have taken for share such a delicate piece of your life with the world. I also want to encouraging you to keep going and fighting for the life you deserve sis, because you are definitely worth it. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and your life’s worth is in no way defined by the things you have done or what had happened to you. You have worth and are far from worthless! Not only that, your life has purpose and I believe if you stand on the faith and strength it took for you to write this post to continue to push forward even on the days it doesnt feel worth it, you can accomplish ANYTHING and I mean that sincerely. You deserve every good thing this world has to offer you and don’t ever let anyone, not yourself or your situation tell you differently. You have worth. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love, (real Corinthians 13 love) and I pray that you see the beauty in every painful thing you have been through. I’ll be praying for you and please feel free to reach out to those who love you when you need it most. You’re going to make it! I believe in your greatness and I pray you receive every good and amazing blessing God has in store for your future. May God’s peace be with you and may you know true love and happiness in this lifetime.

  19. Katrina
    16th July 2017 / 7:47 pm

    God bless you! I believe that every lesson we go through in life is to teach those coming up after us. You are absolutely here for a purpose. God loves us despite any decisions we have made that wasn’t of him. You are not alone and you shouldn’t fight alone. If I may suggest…. find a support group that you can join, of individuals living with HIV near you. My prayers are with you. You got this sis! Thank you for your transparency. 😘 Much love & respect!

  20. Do better
    17th July 2017 / 7:47 am

    God didn’t punish you. You did this to your own damn self. Is there a reason why you weren’t using condoms? Why you kept sleeping with a man who gave you chlamydia? And why you’re still seeing him knowing he infected you with HIV?

    You can’t blame this on low self-esteem, you’re just plain dumb. Self medicating with sex doesn’t mean throwing common sense out the window. You could’ve been as promiscuous as you pleased and not caught a single disease if you actually practiced safe sex. I can’t imagine one’s self esteem being so low that you would disrespect your own body like this. You and your boyfriend deserve each other cause you’re both IDIOTS. No sympathy whatsoever from me.

    • C.W.
      22nd July 2017 / 12:14 pm

      One thing I will say, is that I hope the hatred that you have in your heart towards yourself you can fix instead of negatively projecting those feelings on to me & my situation. Just because you personally don’t understand my reasonings & actions don’t mean that there are t thousands of women that do. Yes I know I was dumb yes I know I did this to myself yes I know this could have been prevented but I’m past that point and I’m here now. I have HIV due to the choices I made. Since you asked so many questions and you’re so concerned I’ll answer everything. 1. The reason I wasn’t using condoms is because I trusted him even after giving me chlamydia & gonorrhea I still trusted him because those things were curable & I truly believed if I just gave him more sex he wouldn’t have to have sex with anyone because I would be enough but even if he did stray he would only come back with something that could be curable which was the case for FOUR years, I never thought it would get to this point like THOUSANDS of black women who partners infect them. I was still dealing with him knowing he infected me because at the point where I was when I wrote this article I was low like past rock bottom at 24 honestly who would want to deal with me knowing I have HIV, self esteem issues, self worth issues, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc etc that’s a lot and I felt well hell he has it I have it might as well just stick to what I know. The point I think you’re missing is I never asked ANYONE for their sympathy you especially can keep that shit. I want to tell my story so women who are in similar position or know someone in a similar position can just stop and reasses their choices and actions and go get tested. HIV is silently killing black women. We aren’t getting tested & we’re ignorantly trusting men with our health if I can shine light on this subject in anyway I’ll continue to do so with my story. I wanted to end this with go to hell but you were giving your opinion so I appreciate you actually clicking and reading the article hopefully you and those around you will never have to experience the life I’m living now!

      • C.W.
        22nd July 2017 / 12:27 pm

        One more thing I forgot to type sorry I’m very long winded, self medicating with sex does mean throwing your common sense out the window. No healthy person (healthy mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually) uses sex as a means of self medication, they address the issue head on and work through it. Using sex as a means of self medication, at least for me, meant ignoring the main issue (depression, no self worth, no self value, no self love etc etc) for the temporary gratification that sex gave me.

  21. Andrea
    17th July 2017 / 6:54 pm

    Hello beautiful Sunshine. You are truly amazing and strong. God made you, always know this and remember it. I’ve been looking into this amazing product called “BLACK SEED OIL”. Please take time and do some research on this amazing product for yourself. You should google the product aswell. There is also a person on YouTube who speaks of remedies for a lot of today’s sicknesses. His channel is called “4cyclesoflife” . I pray that this will shed some light for you. Remember God got you. Shine Bright Sunshine.

  22. C.W.
    22nd July 2017 / 12:22 pm

    I want to just take the time to thank everyone for reading the article. I truly appreciate you all even the negative comments. This has truly been a life changing experience for me and seeing the response I’m getting from being so transparent is giving me the push I need to do more. 8 out of 10 states with the highest HIV rates are in the South, where I currently am. In my current state my county has the 4th highest rates of new HIV/AIDS cases, which is crazy because none of my friends know that as this is a college town and as you can imagine a lot of sex is happening but said all that to say I’ll be doing a lot more volunteer work & outreach with our local HIV/AIDS organization and hopefully there’s an opportunity for me to give you guys an update here on AfroGirlFitness. Forever grateful for the space and oppurtunity to share my story with you guys.

  23. Katelyn M Irons
    22nd July 2017 / 11:46 pm

    Thank You for sharing your story, you have changed my perspective on celibacy.

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