HIV doesn’t define me

20 Aug, 2020

How does it feel to deal every day with a viral infection?

My infection does not define me. I’m not my illness, I’m not the virus. I’m a young woman full of energy, who loves doing new things. That’s why I don’t speak openly with people about my infection, keeping it secret, even if it’s not so easy. I’m afraid of people’s reaction when knowing I’m HIV-infected.

Do you think there are some similarities between COVID-19 and HIV? People are really scared of HIV. I think that it mostly relates to the fact that educational programmes are often designed to frighten adolescents, not to provide them reliable information. I think that the same thing could happen also in the regards to COVID-19. To feel frightened rather than informed and aware. And this could lead to a stigmatization towards individuals with COVID-19 as does for those with HIV.

What is your biggest fear in regards to this pandemic?

I’m scared that we can become indifferent to illnesses and to suffering. I’m afraid that people underestimate this pandemic and all its consequences at a health, psychological, social and economic level.

This pandemic has outlined also the importance of scientific research: imagine speaking to a researcher, what would you say to them?

I would say to them “Never give up! Your work is precious, your work can change and improve other people’s lives. No matter if you succeed or not, never give up!”. I consider researcher as heroes. But I would say that everyone that works to provide services for other people is a hero.

This pandemic has outlined the important role of healthcare workers: could you describe your relationship with healthcare professionals?

I really trust healthcare professionals that are passionate, committed and interested in learning. My medical doctor is one of the most empathic and openminded people I know. I consider her as a friend, even if she’s not as young as me. I hope to become as passionate and intelligent as the doctors, nurses, educators and all other healthcare professionals that have taken care of me since I was born.