Through my work at RAIN, I have the wonderful privilege of knowing many friends and colleagues living with or affected by HIV. Recently, I had the chance to sit down and talk with several individuals about what that phrase “life positively” means to them.

Some common themes emerged:

  • “It’s about having a vibrant outlook on life.”
  • “It means my opportunity to come from a place of service.”
  • “We as individuals can impact others by sharing our stories.”

Everyone talked about living with purpose, not letting life pass by, and being intentional about life choices:

  • “An HIV diagnosis really prompts you to take a step back, pause and look at what you need to do.”
    Several talked about self-empowerment, their own work to overcome obstacles and struggles, and how meaningful it is to personally support, empower and educate others about HIV:
  • “Everything comes back to love: self-care, and self-love. Things like not allowing yourself to be broke all the time, or to be treated badly, but instead, looking at where you can start to grow and have stability.”

Most stressed that it’s been an ongoing process to change their way of thinking:

  • “I coach myself every day. But I no longer look at my pill bottle and say, ‘I’m HIV positive.’ Life is not going to stop me because I’m living with HIV. You have to find your inner truth — it took me several years, but I no longer give anyone else control of my happiness. Whether someone likes me or not, it’s not going to change my HIV status.”

One individual summed up the power of living “life positively:”

  • “It means I have so much to look forward to. I have HIV, but it no longer has me.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with their HIV diagnosis, there are several organizations who want to help. Please take a look at the resources in this issue of qnotes. We are here for you so that life may be lived positively.

Rev. Debbie Warren is founder, president and CEO of RAIN.