Deloris, age 54 / New Jersey, “Jamerican” (USA & Jamaica)


I am very fortunate.  I’ve been able to educate myself to the graduate level.  I hold down a really decent job.  I make, in nonprofit, nonprofit-decent money. (Laughs) That’s a disclaimer. I think to live with HIV you have to have a lot of support.  And if they’re not coming from your family? You have to create them. You have to know that there are other people like you out there.  So I think that’s what has sustained me.

I think what we don’t talk about is being alone.  I am a single woman.  I had my son as a single woman.  He’s thirty-three years old now.  I have a grandbaby, so I have family support, but I don’t have a man in my life. In my fifties you realize how lonely it is when you don’t really have anybody.  You know?  I have some great friends, and so if I needed a date or need to go out to dinner with somebody, that’s great, but… I don’t have constant companionship, and I don’t know how to go about getting it. (Laughs)  So I think that’s the issue.

I pray a lot.  I’ve learned that if I want to cry I just need to cry. I write poetry? So I express my deepest fears and things that bother me through poetry.  I don’t write enough of it. The truth is we keep really busy as women, so that there are not these moments where we have to slow down and think about it.  That is the truth.  You know, we keep very busy.  I work.  I do HIV work.  I do this.  I do that.  I help others.  That’s what I do.  I keep busy.  But you feel it when you go home. And how much TV can you watch by yourself?

There are some things that you don’t really discuss as a HIV-positive woman, like early childhood trauma.  Like things that happened when you were much younger.  How that influenced your decision-making, and how it influenced how you saw yourself as a woman? And so over the years, as I’ve gotten older, I have been looking at those things. And recognize that I had to embrace what is the past, and learn from that, so that I can make myself better.  So at fifty-four? I haven’t solved all the problems, but I’m happy and contented with myself.