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I was diagnosed in county jail. When I first was diagnosed it was – it was really hard.
Even though I put myself at risk – at a really high risk, I mean, I never thought it would happen to me. I never thought it would happen, you know,
When you’re transgender and in prison, you’re – you’re right away, your mind goes into this mode that I know what I have to do to survive.
When I started transitioning and taking my hormones / it was like, I started feeling different. And I started liking who I was and it’s like, I’m a different person. I mean, even though I’m HIV positive, that it doesn’t stop me no more. It doesn’t – I’m not afraid anymore
I want other people to learn that it is okay to live with HIV. It is okay to be accepted.
One of the hardest things is when you first get diagnosed, right? So, you have to deal with the shame. You have to deal with meeting doctors, meeting people, getting appointments. And your first reaction comes with, like, how are they going to look at me? How are they going to judge me? Am I going to get criticized? Are they going to say things after I leave?
Being on the other side, now, it’s – it’s a learning experience every day.
I started to volunteer at the agency where I was a client. For me to – to speak with them is really easy, that’s – that’s what got me that job, that understanding, that caring, honesty, the sincerity, and just the fact to be trusted again, it was amazing – an amazing experience for me to get this job.

Vivianna found out she was living with HIV while she was incarcerated. She talks about her transition and HIV diagnosis. Although it’s been hard, she has found a way to overcome her fear, and to accept herself.

It is safe for trans women to be on hormone therapy while taking medications to treat or prevent HIV. Under the care of a trained medical professional, you can safely transition with hormone therapy while on antiretrovirals (ARVs), the medications used to treat HIV. The same is true for PrEP, the pill to prevent HIV.

Let your doctor know about your physical and mental health, your sexual history, any medications or substances (legal or not) you’re taking, and trauma you’ve experienced.

DIY (do-it-yourself) hormone treatments outside of medical supervision are dangerous, regardless of your HIV status. There is no guarantee that hormones bought “off the street” or on the Internet are safe. Drugs may be mislabeled, tainted, or cause unexpected side effects that are irreversible – and can cause your HIV treatment or prevention meds to be less effective. And, never, ever, share needles or other injection equipment. HIV can be spread very easily this way.