Personal stories.

We interviewed 7 remarkable individuals who are HIV positive and undetectable.* We talked about their lives, their loves, and
the kinds of things living with HIV has taught them. Here's what they had to say.

*Undetectable means keeping the amount of HIV-1 in the blood at very low levels (less than 50 copies per mL).

All people featured on this site are real patients diagnosed with HIV-1 and have been compensated for their time by ViiV Healthcare.

Reaching
undetectable gave
me a huge relief,
even with just
going about my
day-to-day.

Rodney Rodney Undetectable since 2008

Rodney

Reaching
undetectable gave
me a huge relief,
even with just
going about my
day-to-day.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:I try to live somewhat stress-free these days, so I do things that I enjoy. I do some painting and work a bit with my sister to help with her business. I like all kinds of cooking too, and I love trying out different recipes.

2.

Q:Reaching undetectable is a major achievement; what was it like for you?

A:It felt really good, because I had reached a certain point of recovery where I didn’t have to get as nervous about getting sick with a cold or something. Overall, I’d say it gave me a huge relief, even with just going about my day-to-day.

3.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? When you learn about new HIV treatments, do you discuss them?

A:In the beginning, I felt like I wasn’t getting proper care. Eventually, I found a healthcare group in my city and they were so fantastic. I found another doctor who was also fantastic, and I’ve been with him ever since. I always ask about new medications when I read something online and discuss them with my doctor.

4.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:I learned that I have a lot of resilience. At times I felt like I wouldn’t get through it, but I kept on giving myself that little boost…I thought it was fantastic that I had this little warrior inside me.

I wake up with
gratitude each day,
because of the joy
of knowing
who I am.

Elveth Elveth Undetectable since 2015

Elveth

I wake up with
gratitude each day,
because of the joy
of knowing
who I am.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:I work a lot in the field with people who are diagnosed with HIV. I'm responsible for making sure that they're getting care within a 24- to 48-hour period, and I help them with accepting their diagnosis. I have four projects involving self-care, HIV & sex, self-worth, and self-love—all of which are a reflection of who I've become. I have to say that, overall, I'm happy with myself. I wake up with gratitude each day, because of the joy of knowing who I am and what I've learned from my life experiences.

2.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? What about it makes it work?

A:I have a wonderful relationship with my doctor. I’m very straightforward and honest with her, and I find her to be very understanding. She’s been my doctor since around 2000, and after more than 15 years she really knows a lot about me—she knows my daughter and I know her children. I really trust her.

3.

Q:Are there any specific things you do to keep yourself healthier, overall?

A:I like to work out to be healthier, because I’m pretty body-conscious. Self-care and self-love have also become ‘‘best practices’’ for me—sometimes I take myself out to dinner, and once every six months, I like to take some form of vacation to take time off to recuperate from my job. My self-care helps me to be my best me.

4.

Q:What advice would you give your younger self?

A:Take control of your life—your physical life and your spiritual life. Become empowered by who you are. Once you do that, it's going to be okay.

Sometimes you just
have to stay
humble, stay calm,
and try not to
control life.

Jasmine Jasmine Undetectable since 2014

Jasmine

Sometimes you just
have to stay
humble, stay calm,
and try not to
control life.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:I had a rough time in high school and dropped out because of bullying. I went back and obtained my GED in trade and hotel tourism and started working in the service industry; I ended up as a front desk manager. When I started my transition, I became less of an introvert and more outspoken—I'm more confident in who I am now.

GED = general equivalency development or diploma

2.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:My mistakes have made me the person I am—I’ve learned from them and I’m only human. I always look at the cup half full. Sometimes you just have to stay humble, stay calm, and try not to control life.

3.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? What about it makes it work?

A:I love the relationship I have with my doctor, because she doesn’t cut any corners—she does not miss anything. I feel it’s a privilege for me to have a relationship like that with my healthcare provider. We don’t just talk about HIV, because it’s not just HIV—it’s everything around HIV.

4.

Q:What advice would you give your younger self?

A:It gets better, because you’re going to be able to help so many people. And you’re going to be able to experience things that you never thought you would.

I've learned
that it's
important not
to be defined
by my HIV.

Ruben Ruben Undetectable since 2009

Ruben

I've learned
that it's
important not
to be defined
by my HIV.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:On the weekends, I do ceramics at a nonprofit studio because they have a kiln there. Sometimes I work with porcelain at home—it needs to dry slowly, and I’m able to monitor it more closely there. I also enter pieces in shows from time to time. During the week, I work for an HIV care provider and assist clients in my community with getting care.

2.

Q:What has it been like working with your healthcare team? Do you stay on top of new HIV treatments that may be coming?

A:My experience is that I’ve had to be more vocal with my doctors, and ask them about HIV treatment options. I feel I've had to take a more active role in my treatment and take charge of my overall health. I do keep abreast of any new treatments, especially since I have clients who may ask about them. I want to be sure I can respond to that with at least a little bit of information.

3.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:I’ve learned that it’s important not to be defined by my HIV. I’m doing what I want in life—being an artist and creating pottery and ceramics—because that was my plan for me, not because of my HIV.

4.

Q:If life has taught me one thing, it's...

A:That I’m not going to fail.

Strive for all of
your goals, and
never let anyone
or anything bring
you down.

Tiera Tiera Undetectable since 2010

Tiera

Strive for all of
your goals, and
never let anyone
or anything bring
you down.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:I work full-time as a peer navigator in an HIV clinic. Basically, I work with a lot of newly diagnosed patients as well as ones who may struggle with medication adherence. I also enjoy doing hair—it's like my second job. Oh, and I like to plan parties!

2.

Q:Reaching undetectable is a major achievement; what was it like for you?

A:It felt good because I knew that my HIV was under control, and I was doing the right things to keep myself healthier. I felt happier knowing my body was taken care of and that I'm on the right track—I just have to keep doing what I've been doing!

3.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? What about it makes it work?

A:I went through two doctors when I started. The first one was rough around the edges and too straightforward—that may work for some people, but not for me. I need someone who's more loving, like my current doctor; she explains every single thing to me.

4.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:I've done some growing up; I feel like I've gotten more mature. I realized that I'm pretty resilient—I'm bigger than this HIV, and I'm not going to let it control me.

5.

Q:What advice would you give your younger self?

A:I would tell her, you have many more things to accomplish. Strive for all of your goals, and never let anyone or anything bring you down.

I’ve learned that
I can be myself
and be at peace.

Danny Danny Undetectable since 1997

Danny

I’ve learned that
I can be myself
and be at peace.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your life.

A:I’m kind of a caregiver in my family, so I make sure to take care of myself, too—you always have to make time to recharge. I do volunteer work for a local mental health consumer network; I go there to support others. At this point in my life, it’s not about running around all day like I did when I was 20. I like to take a day to go out to the park and relax my mind. I walk a lot too, and enjoy dancing every so often.

2.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? When you learn about new HIV treatments, do you discuss them?

A:Over the years, I’ve tried to build relationships with my doctors. I think having an open dialogue is important, and I have that openness with all of them. Your provider, your nurse, your pharmacist—they’re all on the same team with you. I feel fortunate to have these relationships; I didn’t feel like this when I was first diagnosed; it took years. At this point, my concern is having been on medicine for so long. I talk to my doctors about new treatments and whether or not I’d be comfortable trying something else that might be better for me.

3.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:I’ve learned that I can be myself and be at peace. I focus on different things at this point in my life, and it seems the more I reach out to help someone else, the better it makes me feel.

4.

Q:What advice would you give your younger self?

A:If you feel like something isn't right, you’ve got to self-reflect. As long as that self-reflection is there, it’ll be alright because it’s always about improving.

5.

Q:If life has taught me one thing, it's...

A:Never give up. Where there is life, there is hope.

When I reached
undetectable, I felt
like I came into my
own identity, and I
found my own safe
space within myself.

Warren Warren Undetectable since 2010

Warren

When I reached
undetectable, I felt
like I came into my
own identity, and I
found my own safe
space within myself.

1.

Q:Tell us a little bit about your lifehow do you like to spend your time?

A:I work as a senior peer linkage specialist for the Department of Public Health, and I help the newly diagnosed find care. I’m also senior producer of our social media MSM campaign. Oh, and did I mention I love playing cards?!

MSM = men who have sex with men

2.

Q:Reaching undetectable is a major achievement; what was it like for you?

A:I have to credit my healthcare provider with helping me get there. And when I did, I found a safe space within myself and came to terms with the fact that I live with this disease every day.

3.

Q:What’s your relationship with your doctor like? When you learn about new HIV treatments, do you discuss them?

A:Honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better provider. I consider her a friend. She’s a strong supporter of the work I do around HIV education and awareness. During my visits, we discuss treatment options on the market that weren’t available during the last visit. We weigh the pros and cons and make a determination of whether I’m going to stay on my current regimen or try something else.

4.

Q:What have you learned about yourself since you were first diagnosed with HIV?

A:I learned that I’m really resilient. And pretty grounded too. Through this disease, I learned the level of care I thought I had is actually much bigger than I ever imagined it could be.

5.

Q:What advice would you give your younger self?

A:HIV is not who you are. It’s only a piece of what you live with on a daily basis. And if life has taught me one thing, it’s to be the best I can be, because I am somebody!