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Love In The Time Of Hiv/Aids

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

In the first part of our interview with Analise* last week, we spoke to the mother-of-four about how she contracted HIV and learned to lead a full life even with the disease. Thanks to her strict adherence to medication, she has now survived 24 years of being HIV positive.

This week, we learn how despite her devastating diagnosis at the age of 19, she went on to find love, not only once, but twice, and how today she is a happily married woman.

Analise was not looking for love when she found it several years ago. At the time, she was living with HIV, had recently had a hysterectomy, and felt the odds were stacked against her in the romance department.

Analise was diagnosed with HIV midway through her third pregnancy. After undergoing several examinations, her tests came back positive. She was immediately placed on medication to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

She believes she contracted the disease from her third child’s father, as he was the “only one I was with at the time”, she told Tribune Health.

Then, another man came along whom Analise fell in love with.

“When I had my third daughter the person I ended up meeting gave me a lot of hope. He was truly supportive, so I decided to have a baby for him,” she said.

Analise went through the same process, undergoing tests and taking medication to ensure the virus wasn’t transmitted to her child during birth.

While she took proper precautions to ensure her children were born unaffected, Analise did not exercise the same caution when it came to having intercourse with her partner. She admitted they took a big risk by having unprotected sex.

Analise said she was still fairly young at the time and did not know exactly how the virus was transmitted.

“He was my son’s father and I was with him up until the time he died (12 years ago). He died from cancer, but was not HIV positive,” she said. “What people do not know is the medication prevents you from passing it on to your partner.”

It is recommended by doctors that discordant couples – where one partner is HIV positive and the other negative – always practice safe sex and condom use.

Additionally, the HIV prevention drug PrEP is given to the negative partner to prevent new HIV infections. Couples are strongly urged to use the drug along with condoms during intercourse to decrease the risk of transmission to the HIV negative partner.

After the death of her former partner and son’s father, Analise met another man, Dean*, who eventually became her husband.

“We were living in the same yard and we talked. He was more friendly than I was,” she said. “Then I got to the point where talking was too much and I wanted to take it a next step. But he is not a fast going person,”.

The talk

After about six months of dating and before any sexual intercourse had occurred, Analise told Dean she had two secrets to share with him.

“So now we’re talking and told him I can’t take him into something that he was blind to. I said to him. ‘I am going to tell you some stuff and I want you to promise me that no matter how you feel we are not going to speak about it after this.’

“I said, ‘I am HIV positive’, and he looks at me like, ‘What the hell?’ He was like, ‘Let me get out of here.’ I could see madness all over him. If looks could kill I would have been dead,” she said.

Analise gave him the opportunity to digest the information before continuing with her other revelation.

“I said to him, ‘Do you have any questions for me, anything you would like to know?’ He said, ‘I love you’. I was shocked. He said, ‘We will get through this together.’

“So I pulled back because I am thinking to myself, ‘you are admitting that you want to go into this thing head on’. So I was thinking, ‘Something ain’t right with you, something going on wrong in your head or something.’ He was like, ‘No, we can use protection, which is fine’.”

Dean then asked her if she was taking any medication and how often.

“I told him about twice a day. Then he started getting supportive, saying ‘you know you gatta take them right.’ Then I started to think this man is really crazy, so I say, ‘Let me see how this going to work out.’”

At this point Analise revealed her second secret about having had a hysterectomy.

“I told him because of me being HIV positive I had hysterectomy so I can’t have any more children. I told him, ‘I know you don’t have any children and later on you might want to have a child and I can’t produce one for you.’ So I said, ‘Here’s what we can do. You can go out there and have a child, and if life happens and we end up getting back together, then fine. He said, ‘No, I don’t want to go anywhere, I am comfortable with you the way you are’.”

Although Analise counsels people who have been diagnosed with HIV, she admitted talking to Dean about the disease was not easy.

“Counselling a stranger is fine. But someone who knows you and is right there in your face all the time is a little bit difficult,” she said.

“One time he asked, ‘So what if we die?’ I said, ‘Then we die. Everyone has to die, but that doesn’t mean we will die from this disease.’”

Saying ‘I do’

In 2015, Analise and Dean tied the knot in a small church ceremony in the presence of a few friends and relatives. She had been shocked by his proposal and the fact that he loved her unconditionally.

“One day he said to me, ‘We ain’t getting no younger, either we going to get married and be together or we are going to be single.’ So I said, ‘This man have to be crazy.’ I said to him, ‘You haven’t gotten your divorce yet. So he said as soon he get the divorce we are getting married.”

Not long after, Analise was surprised by a call from an excited Dean who shared his news about his divorce being finalised.

“A week later we were in the church getting married,” she said.

When it comes to intimate moments, Analise said she and Dean always practice safe sex by using a condom.

“My goal is to never give him anything. That is the reason I take my medication every day so that I don’t pass it on to him. It would hurt me to know I passed it on to him,” she said.

Analise said she is blessed to have survived so long considering the fact that so many around her, including two close friends and her mother, have lost their lives to the disease.

“I really thought at first that my life was finished. There was no marriage, no love in sight,” said Analise. “I not only got married, I had two whole children (since being diagnosed) that are (HIV) negative.

“We got married, we got our own home, and we have accomplished a lot of things. It’s been challenging because sometimes I get to the point where I don’t want take any medication, but I know that I have had friends who stopped. And when they stopped taking their medication they stopped too. So you can’t give up on life,” she said.

  • Names have been changed to protect the individual’s identity.

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