The first in our series of first-person stories of living with HIV/AIDS
It was September 16, 1995. I was in the prime of my life, I thought. I was a single mother of four, and I was finally getting my life together. I have always been a community advocate, so my goal was to run for City Council in Vallejo (California) and help change the dynamics for the future youth of Solano County. I was asked to go out with my girlfriend for a fun night to celebrate my 32nd birthday. I was picked up in a very strange vehicle with my girlfriend and some of her close friends.
The passengers caught me off guard, so I asked, “Why are they going with us?”
She stated, “Just to have more fun.”
I asked if we could go get another girlfriend of ours. She said, “No, we are just going to head out to San Francisco for a night of fun.”
We arrived in the city at a very desolate night club. The bartender asked, “Are you with this group?” He then told me to be careful, that the group I was with was not to be trusted. I became very afraid. I went to my friend and told her I was ready to leave as I was uncomfortable with the group. She said I was being a party pooper.
Next, we left the club heading to Vallejo, I thought. We stopped at another club in Oakland. Again, the bartender asked me to watch myself! I became really nervous, so again I said to my friend I was ready to go.
We left the club, and I felt safe again as I thought we were heading home. Then, on the way home, one of the passengers said he needed to stop for an emergency restroom break. We stopped in Richmond, which is 20 minutes away from Vallejo, at one of the passengers’ homes. The woman and two of the men went upstairs, and they were there for a while. About 20 minutes in, I decided to go up and see what the issue was.
They were engaging in their own party, drinking and smoking and enjoying some leftover tacos. I said that I thought they were taking me home. Again, I was referred to as a party pooper. I asked if I could use the phone. I called a friend to come and get me. When I got off the phone, there was a plate of 2 tacos and a cup of red juice. I picked up the cup, and that was it.
I woke up a few hours later totally naked.
I had no idea that my life changed that night; I had been drugged and raped. I began to break out with rashes and lesions. Later, in December, I went to get an anonymous HIV test and was told I was reactive and had seven years to live. This was when my new life began.
Now I’m an HIV advocate.