Sophia Harrison, 51, is a single mother of two, with an extended family to support. She has lived with epilepsy her entire life; she suffers from hypertension; and she is a breast cancer survivor.
Yet more challenging than any of these was learning she was HIV-positive.
“I was crying for at least six months,” she said of learning she was HIV positive 10 years ago. “It hurt me real bad.”
Harrison’s story is far from unusual. She is one of about 140,000 African-American women living and aging with HIV. While she is grateful to be alive, she faces multiple health challenges in addition to HIV, like hypertension, diabetes and breast cancer, that disproportionately plague African-American women. And they often struggle to take care of themselves and their families because of limited resources. In working with older African-American women who are HIV-positive, I learned about their individual stories.
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