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Together, We Are Stronger Than AIDS

Photo: Courtesy of Adrian Neil

Even now, I hear stories of people being kicked out of their homes, being shunned by family and losing friends because of their HIV status or sexuality. Thanks to my mother, that is not my story.

A shocking revelation

When I first came out to my mom about my sexuality, she was shocked. Like many parents, she needed time to adjust and, to be honest, we grew apart. It wasn’t until I told her that I had AIDS — yes AIDS, not HIV — that our relationship turned around.

When I told my mom about my diagnosis, I broke down in tears. I believed I had disappointed and embarrassed her. To my surprise, she grabbed me in her arms and whispered in my ear, while holding back tears, “WE will get through this.” I am not sure she understands the impact of those words. They saved my life.

Lifesaving support​​​​​​​

As the CDC campaign says, HIV treatment works, but it can’t do it alone. Through four hospitalizations, two seizures and countless appointments my mother was there. I remember the first seizure I had. I was rushed to the hospital and felt like giving up. With tears running down my face I told my mom I was scared to die. She told me, “You are going to fight, WE are going to fight and get through this.” I truly believe that if it wasn’t for my mother’s strength and her prayers, I would not be here.

My mother continues to play an active role in my health care. I call her for advice on my relationship, work, finances and sometimes we talk just for hours. Without my mother — a black woman raising two kids while working full time and studying for her masters and now her doctorate — I do not know where I would be.

Even though my diagnosis was traumatic, it brought my mother and I a lot closer. Our bond is unbreakable and today I am healthy. To my mother, no amount of words or actions I do could ever amount to what you’ve done for me. I love you.

Adrian Neil Jr., CBA Specialist, AIDS United, [email protected]

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