June 27 is a heartbreaking anniversary for Red. Seven years ago Wednesday, she found out both she and her husband, were HIV positive. The news was devastating. "It was really shocking. When I first found out, I didn't want to live any more," she said sadly.
While the diagnosis itself was shocking, it's the unknown that is the hardest part for Red. Not knowing when the disease might rear its ugly head and how long she might have. She lives day to day. "Just trying to get through to the next day. You pray to God that you make it through the night, and you pray you make it to the next day, she said.
She gets her strength from her family, especially her four-year-old grandson. Now she's on a mission, urging others to get tested.
It's a message people like 30-year-old Reko Simmons are opening up to today. Reko works as a counselor at My Brothaz home, helping those who may have been newly diagnosed with the disease. "Right now, I'm here trying to encourage people to do better, so I need to encourage myself to do better," Reko said.
For the first time, Reko is taking an HIV test. After waiting twenty minutes, he got some good news; his test is negative. But he knows through his counseling sessions with other young adults, he's one of the lucky ones. "If you're positive, it's best to go ahead and find out, then to sit there and wait, not knowing and end up very sick," he admitted.
Red's been fortunate since finding out she's HIV positive. The HIV in her blood is currently undetectable, she's taking her medicine and living her life.
"I just want to see my grandson grow up and graduate, that's all I ask for," Red explained.
Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, firstname.lastname@example.org