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My name is Maria Mejia..37 years old, born in Colombia but I have lived all my life in Miami,Florida I found out I had Hiv when I was just turning 18 when I entered a program called job corp where they did testings to all of us . I got Hiv very young around the age of 16 from my first boyfriend who at the time I did not know was an iv drug user he was also a gang member and so was I at the was my family back then..even though I had a wonderful mother I grew up with a lot of abuse starting at the age of 3 the sexual molestation of an uncle and then growing up with a mentally abusive father I ran away from home at 13 that is when I met him ..he was the leader of the gang and the person who would change my life forever. I never knew this could happen to me...I was so young and this was a homosexual disease back then .I thought my life is over and I went back home to the years and cycles passed I saw that I was not dying and started accepting the fact that this was going to be with me until the end so I became more spiritual started loving myself more,taking care of myself and my life changed for the better! I can honestly say Hiv/Aids saved my life! so I started being an activist and an advocate and I am here to save lives by sharing my story with journey of 20 years have not been easy..being with this illness and stigma attached to it..but I have realized that I can cause a great impact in showing me, my face! to take stigma away..that is why I decided to come out of the Hiv/aids closet. I am ready to show my face for many reasons! After the cycles that we go through with HIV/AIDS ... the denial, realizing I was not dying after all ... came the shame and hiding. I also started with the lies ... that I believe came from my mother trying to protect me, saying tell everyone I have something else (another illness like lupus etc etc)! Well after so much hiding, lying, the SHAME! Something really deep happened before 2011 came. My wife's sister passed away from cancer and this was so terrible :(. I thought to myself, and asked myself, WHY can't I say I have HIV?? Why is it that anyone can say they have cancer or diabetes or any other health condition and I am so scared to disclose openly without having that fear?

It then, with a combination of other things, made me feel it is time to show my face to take the stigma away! We are not criminals ... I have seen from a baby to an 80 year old lady that are living with the virus! It can happen to anyone ... it takes only one time of having unprotected sex for you to be exposed! I am tired of feeling like I am a fugitive, a delinquent, a person in constant fear of people that I don't want to know finding out about my status.

I know the stigma has to do with lack of education, fear of the unknown and because HIV is linked to sex ... and this is taboo. But we are all sexual beings, and as I said, it only takes ONE time of unprotected sex to be exposed! Along with the other ways we know about contracting the disease.

Another of the things that has me very disturbed is the way people, especially young people, that have minimized this illness to NOTHING! They just think, "oh, if I get infected I just take some pill and I will live a long life." NO, it is not that simple! This is a hard disease! I know we as positive people have to show strength, but at the same time, we have to be realistic ... this illness or condition is no joke.

HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence anymore but it is a LIFE SENTENCE! You get no breaks ... unless you have the mutation that does not allow HIV to damage your immune system. So NO! It's not that simple ... please get tested, protect yourself and little by little try to educate those around you.

Another thing that has me very sad because of this way of thinking, is that HIV is being forgotten ... although there are many people fighting. We need to have that passion that the people before us had! That Spirit of Passion! We have the responsibility to educate those who are not educated on this matter and help those who just started this journey!

I know that some may think "well, it took her 20 years to get to this point" ... and this is true. Although I have been talking in public schools, educational classes in UM Jackson Memorial Hospital here in Miami, as a volunteer in the Red Cross ... I always played it safe! but not anymore :) I am a blogger at and the wellproject a girl like me..I am trying to create awarness for everyone especially in the lesbian community where this is rarley talked about!

This is how I feel ... If I get discriminated by anyone because I chose to come out to the whole world and show my face out there, it is their loss! That includes some in my own family or friends that don't know! Because I am not a CRIMINAL! I am a Loving partner,human being, and I am a very proud Hiv positive lesbian .

Love and light