ONE Campus leader Vanessa Gonzalez Rodriguez was diagnosed with HIV at the age of nine, but thanks to life-saving medicines, she was able to give birth to a healthy baby boy. Here’s her incredible story:
It’s heartbreaking to have people tell you that you shouldn’t have kids because you’re HIV-positive. That’s what I was told by my family since I was diagnosed at the age of nine. Every little girl dreams of being a mom someday, and I was no different. But 10 years later, when I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous. One question was on my mind: Would my child be born with HIV?
When I was young, it used to be hard for me to take my medicine because the dosage was 16 pills a day. Years later, as I became a soon-to-be mother, it was easier not only because there were less pills, but because I knew it wasn’t just for me. It was for my child. I was on a combination of incredible drugs –- Combivir, Kaletra and prenatal vitamins — but I took my medicine every day and I went to the doctor as scheduled. And nine months later, my beautiful baby boy Daniel was born.
Daniel was tested for the virus when he was born, three months later, at six months and when he was one year old. Every time, the results were negative. My son will be two years old this week, and he is healthy and HIV-negative because of affordable, life-saving drugs that were made available to me during my pregnancy.
Every day, more 1,000 children are born with HIV. Let’s ensure that tomorrow, no mother has to worry about passing a deadly disease on to her child. If Daniel could be born HIV-free, there’s no reason another child on earth shouldn’t. As a mother, I can tell you that I’ve never experienced a greater joy than being told my son was HIV-negative. We have the medicine –- what’s missing is the will. Together, we can make sure that no child is born with HIV by 2015.
-Vanessa Gonzalez Rodriguez is a ONE Campus Leader for Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Bay, Florida