My name is Suzan. I am one of the growing number of women who
are infected with HIV. Currently women make up 23% of the 1
million persons living with HIV in the U.S., and this number
continues to rise year after year. I share my story because too
often the stories of women living with HIV are not told. I want
to end the silence and end the stigma. TIHAN is helping me
become an empowered woman, and I hope you will read my story and
why I feel so strongly that you should know how important TIHAN
is to women living with HIV in our community.
Adkins shares her story of living and thriving with HIV. After
being ill for many months, Suzan was eventually tested for HIV
and the test was positive, a moment that changed her life
forever. With the help of her family, TIHAN and her doctors, she
has fought through her illness to make a slow, but steady
turnaround to better health. She finds strength through
surrounding herself with good people, and she and her mother
appreciate the support that TIHAN provides.
became sick in the spring of 2006 and steadily went on the
decline. She made numerous trips to the emergency room only to
be turned away with various diagnoses. As her health worsened,
Suzan became incredibly depressed. In January 2007, she finally
found a doctor who was willing and able to listen to her. She
was tested for HIV, and the test was returned positive.
was at a loss. She immediately turned to her family. She called
her mother, Peggy, who immediately began to pray for her. Peggy
went to her congregation for support and the congregation
responded with prayer. Peggy also began to research any
information she could find on HIV/AIDS and the accompanying
depression so that she could better understand the issues facing
her beloved daughter. Peggy attended various conferences and
TIHAN's educational programs so that she could provide the best
support possible for her daughter.
still felt lost. She couldn't get out of bed, and was in a very
dark place. But slowly, over time, she began to reach out for
help. She found inner strength, and knew that she needed to
fight to get healthy again, not only for herself, but also for
her family, especially her children and her young grandchildren.
a year after her initial diagnosis, Suzan reached out to TIHAN.
She began to attend TIHAN's Poz Cafe lunch program. "I have
to admit that I never realized how many people were living with
HIV until I went to Poz Cafe. It was very important to me to be
able to meet others with this disease. It helps you realize
you're not the only one, and it gives you more of an outlook on
living with this disease instead of dying from it."
addition to the sense of empowerment and comraderie, Suzan
appreciates receiving the healthy and nutritious meal as well as
the care package, a gift bag filled with personal care items.
"These items can be expensive, and when you're unable to
work and living on disability income, it's very, very helpful to
receive these items from TIHAN. I am grateful for TIHAN for
helping me and others living with HIV to meet some very basic
needs," Suzan said.
after Suzan became involved in TIHAN, her mother began to
volunteer. "I am so glad that there are agencies available
for people to turn to," Peggy commented, "and the
interfaith aspect of TIHAN has really helped to show
of the challenges faced by Suzan and other women living with
HIV/AIDS is the stigma of this disease. Because so many people
still hold the misconception that HIV/AIDS is a disease
affecting only gay men, Suzan finds that people often overlook
how many women can become infected. Because of this, Suzan feels
a need to better advocate for herself and other women. She
strives to educate those around her by speaking out as a
positive woman, and by speaking out against the stigma of this
is grateful for the work that TIHAN does to help people who are
living with HIV/AIDS in the community. She strives to let people
know that people living with HIV are just like everyone else.
They have a disease, like cancer, or another chronic illness
that requires attention, care and support but that—with proper
care—can be manageable. Suzan continues the fight to live a
long, healthy life, and aims to watch her grandchildren grow up,
and to ultimately become a great-grandmother herself!
To make a contribution to support the
work of TIHAN, please click
here or call (520) 299-6647 to make a credit card
donation by phone. You can also mail your check, made payable to
TIHAN, to 2660 North 1st Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85719-2911.
Thank you for making a
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