My name is Amber and I’m a 23 year old black woman living in New Orleans. I took control of my health by finding out my HIV status. When I was in my late teens, I used to get STD screenings whenever something didn’t feel right, but those tests didn’t include one for HIV. My friends and I never got tested for HIV even though we would get other STD tests because we were afraid that people would treat us differently.
When I was 17 years old and pregnant with my second child, I got really sick and had to go to the hospital. They did all kinds of tests on me to figure out what was wrong, but every single test they did came back normal. After four days being really sick stuck in that hospital bed I gained the courage to ask for an HIV test. In the back of my mind I knew that I hadn’t been using condoms and hadn’t gotten tested in over a year. I knew that I had to try to find out what was wrong with me because I had to make sure that my child was going to be okay, and honestly I was so tired of feeling so sick. Now I know my status and I’m able to take care of myself properly. I know more about what HIV is and have conversations with my friends to educate them on the myths about HIV they think are true.
Amber’s story is one of our HIV Testing & Prevention program’s "Role Model Stories” in which real people describe how they made a change to reduce their risk and improve their health as it relates to HIV and AIDS. Names have been changed and the images are staged with actors.