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March 8, 2008

When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2000, my whole world stopped. I went into total hiding, total isolation. I wouldn't come out of my house; I just lay in my bed in the fetal position. Then a friend told me about ASC. She said, "You'll get all the support you need there."

I've been coming to ASC ever since. This agency helped me with everything from going to the doctor and understanding my medical information to getting individual therapy and maintaining a healthy mindset. ASC made me want to get out of bed, and today I have my life back.

As a Senior Peer Educator, I co-lead many peer trainings, including ASC's Peer Recovery Education Program (PREP) core training, hepatitis and HIV education initiative (HOPE), and new women's program, HERS @ ASC.

Through HERS @ ASC, I provide one-to-one peer coaching with women who are trying to recover from substance abuse or anything else. A big piece of that work focuses on building women's self-worth and confidence. I meet with the women and help them find the person inside, create themselves some freedom, and stay on track with their recovery by providing whatever assistance they need.

For me, HERS @ ASC is about passing along the same kind of help and safety that I got when I came to this agency. If the HERS program does for half the women what ASC did for me, we can slow the rate of women getting infected unknowingly, women staying trapped in addiction, and women not feeling like they matter. When HIV almost defeated me and said, "You're not. You can't. You won't." ASC said, "You are. You can. You will." And I did. That's what I want other women to see, and to gain for themselves.

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