At sixty-eight years of age, Virginia has lived a very long life. She was married for forty-five years and raised ten children. Diagnosed with HIV in 2011 following a ten-year separation from her husband who had transmitted the disease after engaging in several extramarital affairs, Virginia says she wasn’t sure she wanted to know about her illness.
But once she started experiencing symptoms, she realized she had to face the truth. At the time of her diagnosis, Virginia struggled to deal with the implications of relying on modern medicine to help her stay healthy, which was strictly against the rules of the religious sect in which she practiced her faith. But her doctor was insistent, so she entered the CARE for AIDS program. “I have been very encouraged, and I will keep coming back to help, because this program has given me so much both physically and spiritually.” Even after raising all of her children, Virginia still works, and her prayer each day is that God will continue to help her earn a living. “I am strong in faith, and I will live to be successful, because I take my medication in the right way.” When asked if she has any other advice for staying healthy, Virginia has a simple answer. “Yes,” she says, laughing. “Drink water. And drink milk.”