• Christina Antoniadi

Positive stories: Living and working in HIV in Romania

Ana is a young woman living with HIV in Romania. She became involved in the HIV field after her diagnosis, which happened in very young age. Today she describes her journey into knowledge and empowerment.

Name: Ana

Country of residence: Romania

Country of origin: Romania

Profession: community health worker

What is your involvement in the HIV field? Counselling, prevention, testing, adherence support for PLWH, referral and screening

How has HIV influenced and / or shaped your everyday life and habits?

An HIV diagnosis can turn your life upside down and it also happened with my life…in 2007 I felt that my life ended but in 2018 I really feel that I am more powerful that I have ever been.

I am looking towards the future with optimism and I appreciate every day and every breath I take.

Even though it may sound strange, HIV made me a better person, a person that loves others no matter their race, sexual orientation, age, disabilities or cultural background; a person that finally found her purpose in life – to help others in need - like she needed when she was younger.

It made me more educated and more organized.

What are the key priorities in your opinion presently in the HIV field?

When it comes to priorities in the HIV field, I will always talk about prevention, adherence to treatment and reducing discrimination and stigma.

Are you involved in women projects at the moment?

Yes, I am participating in international projects such as Metrodora as much as I can and I am also counselling other women living with HIV on national level.

How does U=U translates for a woman living with HIV?

U=U is a very important message not only for women living with HIV, but for all the people living with HIV. We, as activists, should promote the U=U campaign and its important message, especially when we struggle to overcome the prejudice and discrimination against people living with HIV.

What is your view about disclosing ones status in the era of U=U?

My HIV status is an “open secret”, restricted in knowledge but widely known in the HIV field.

In Romania, U=U remains something that most people don’t want to accept or believe because for all these years HIV was presented a death sentence, a plague.

However, it’s easier to disclose to those that want to accept all the latest studies and facts about HIV and what undetectable means.

What are in your opinion the biggest misconception about a woman living with HIV?

If you are a woman with HIV most commonly you will be associated with women in sex work.

In your experience what works best when it comes to supporting women living with HIV?

Share resources and information with them and personal stories.

What do you think is the most important message presently for women living with HIV in Europe?

While maintaining ART you can live a long and healthy life and you can have healthy babies. (Only if you wish to have children, of course)

Do you have any message, advice or wish for the women living with HIV in Europe?

Plan your future. Like Abe Lincoln said “it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

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