I'm a Yorta Yorta woman who has had HIV for 18 years. I was born in Bendigo, the eldest child of a very big family, but left home at 17 and eventually moved to Melbourne when I was 20.
I found out I was HIV positive in 1990. I already had one child by that stage, but my second baby was born in 1994. The way I was treated in the hospital that time was shocking. The nurses would get all gowned up whenever they came to check on me and in one instance my medical folder was left open in the hall way with HIV+ in bold writing. The good news is that both my girls are HIV negative.
My experience of being so isolated as an HIV positive, Indigenous female has had a lot to do with me needing to become more actively involved in the HIV sector and stop feeling sorry for myself. I am involved with the Indigenous Positive Network, the National Association of People With Aids, and I became the Chair person of Positive Women of Victoria this year (2 years previous vice-chair person). I am one of four people who formed South Drop-Inn to help prevent the isolation for all positive people in southern Victoria. I have been part of the Speakers Bureau (PLWHA), and have done school talks for the past 5 years on the Mornington Peninsula, speaking to year 10 and year 11.
My health has changed on and off since developing AIDS seven years ago, but is stable at the moment. I have now been at Chisholm Institute in Frankston for the past 4 years. In 2000, I completed year 10, then completed my VCE and I am now doing an Advanced Diploma of Justice that will be completed next year. My eldest will be about to start her VCE, my youngest will be starting high school and I, hopefully, will be employed by the Indigenous Juvenile Justice.