“Our Lives Our Story: The Untold Stories of Women with AIDS”— And Now the Women Speak

The Living Affected Corporation’s Plus Club. “Our Lives Our Story: The Untold Stories of Women with AIDS”, The Living Affected Corporation, 2012.

And Now the Women Speak

Amos Lassen

Sometimes we forget that AIDS is a disease that pays no attention to gender and we seldom think of the women who have HIV/AIDS. The Living Affected Corporation in Little Rock, Arkansas has no forgotten and that is due to the terrific work of its CEO, Deidra Levi. Deidra’s life goal is to make sure that voices are heard and that justice is done so it comes as no surprise that this book has come into being. We look at four women living with AIDS and what they have been through and what is happening with them now. The book opens with showing us the questions that are asked of the four women and then we meet them one by one. It is extremely interesting to see that each answers the questions differently.

Connie Roebuck is now 42 but she has been living with AIDS and HIV since 1996. Before her diagnosis she was an independent woman, a traveler, a worker. She became very angry when her doctor told her that she only had five years to live. She became referred to as “The Lady with AIDS” but she took control of herself and changed doctors and was determined to live. Now she travels and works with others who have AIDS and she has now earned the new name of “The Condom Lady”. Her faith keeps her strong and she finds help by relating her story to others and she is a very strong advocate of safer sex. She wants no one to go through what she has experienced.

Dianne Guy is now 51 and was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and with AIDS in 2002. She says her world fell apart when she was diagnosed. She knew who had given her the disease and was very bitter to the point that she wanted to kill him but he was already dead, having lost his life to an overdose. Her husband was ok with her illness and he has continued fighting to stay alive.

At 55, Ann Dixon is one of the most loveable people I have ever known. She has been living with HIV since 1989 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1999. I met Annie shortly after I came to Arkansas. She was helping run a food bank that supplied groceries to Katrina evacuees and we struck up a fast friendship. As I got to know her better, she told me her story which is here in the book. Before her illness, Annie had been working at a good job and she was able to provide for her son who was, as she says “the light of her life.” Then her life was torn asunder by AIDS. She learned that her husband had infected her and she divorced him on the grounds of adultery. Reading Annie’s story is akin to reading a horror tale but Annie is still here and strong and so much fun to be around.

Vera Santiago is 50 years old and has been living with AIDS since 1995. After the initial shock of learning that she had it, Vera decided that life was meant to be lived and so she did. Vera took her life back and continues to be who she is and advocates for the others who cannot.

Aside from the wonderful stories there is also a resource guide that will tell you just where to go, etc should you need to. This is a book that belongs in every caring person’s library.

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