I want to share the story of one beauty and on the other hand strong young women who is also my friend - Elena or simply in Russia - Lena. I think her story is really inspiring for people living with HIV. And she is also one of the SALT visits organizers in Samara.

My name is Lena.  I am a nurse by profession, so I had some information about HIV|AIDS,  how
the virus is transmitted, how to disinfect instruments. I was a surgical nurse.
Before my working I was a good student and studied really well in college.  Once one young women 19 years old became our
hospital patient and we found out that she has HIV. I remember how I looked at
her and wondered where she could catch «it». She was so young, pretty and very
frightened.  I heard what another nurses talked
about her behind her back, some of them compassionated to her, some judged her,
and were people who treated with contempt and disgust for her. However it was
strange life, not mine… There was everything all right in my life. I worked
hard, had a lot of friends, my son prepared to go to the school for the first
time. Before my holiday I began to undergo a medical examination….

During the regular night shift in the hospital  the telephone rang and I picked up it. After verification of my identity a pleasant
female voice told me not to worry and pass repeatedly HIV testing, because the
first one was positive… And my second HIV testing  was again positive. I can’t describe everything
that I felt at that moment: pain, confusion, anger, fear, despair, tears. In my
mind there were a lot of questions : «For what?», «Why me?», «What would be
with my child after my death?». I was sure that only three-four years left to
live for me. I frantically thought about whom to entrust the custody of my son.
 The hardest thing was I didn’t know whom
I could tell about my misfortune. I was scared to lose my friends by telling
them my diagnosis. In a two month I couldn’t 
withstand and told about it  two
of my close friends (women). They all had shock. We were sitting and crying all
together .  I didn’t expect such support
from them.  They began to look for
optimistic information for me, called to me very often, encouraged me.  I felt better. My diagnosis was reported on
the work and I was asked to write the letter about  my resignation.  The single mother with such illness stayed
without work.. No.. I couldn’t let it be and I started fighting . The Head
of  my department  in the hospital stood on my side and gave me
the secretary work in the hospital. It was the small, but the victory.

I decided to devote my last days of life to hardworking and to my son. I wanted to fund much money to my son before I died.  For the
first time it seemed to me that people on the streets guessed about my positive
status. In the newspapers the word HIV/AIDS had association only with
death.  When I tried to speak about this
theme to my colleagues at my work,  they
didn’t want to listen to anything about it, there was negative attitude to this
problem in our society. So  I was afraid
to ask any information about it, cause people could suspect me in my HIV
status.  It was easier not o think about
it. And such situation lasted 6 years.

Then in my life appeared Internet.  I registered myself on the site of people living with HIV. 
I realize that it sounds strange but I was glad that I’m not alone with
my trouble.  I was supported by many
people from all over Russia, who also have HIV. 
I talked a lot and learned much information. Then I understood that I
could be useful to such people who had just known about their status, share my
own experience of life.  It was my plus
that I have medical education and also I went on to study psychology in the
University. I found out that we have mutual group of help in our city to people
with HIV.  I began to visit it.

Now I have 9 years of HIV experience, I have adopted my diagnosis and learned to say about it calmly. One day I took part in Moscow training for HIV women. I was
impressed by many participants, a lot of them were so confident, openhearted,
womanly, cheerful, friendly. And in spite of the troubles they were ready to
help to another people.  The women from
Belorussia struck me most of all. She had been living with HIV over 20 years
and looked charmingly.

Returning from training I with my friends who also have HIV decided to create organization to help people living with HIV in Samara and also try to prevent our
friends, children, familiars, neighbors from HIV infection.  Helping to another people you help to
yourself first of all.

The most difficult moment for me was to confess to my 14 years son about my diagnosis. I did it after came back home from the action devoted to died from AIDS people in
the International AIDS Day. I cried and told about my feelings to my son and I
did accent that it’s important for me his understanding my wish his life would
be healthy and happy.  My son said that
loved me very much and it wasn’t 
important for him what would say another people about his mom.  It was so inspiring for me. And now my son
supports me in everything ))

Presently I’m the chief of the Charitable Fund cares about people living with HIV and another socially significant diseases. Also I hold trainings about prevention
HIV among youth, additionally work as psychologist, peer counselor for a
hotline.  Recently I was invited to work
in International movement «Constellation» where a lot of people all over the
world high up people’s information level about HIV/AIDS.  I travel a lot, and I have interesting  job and wonderful  friends. What is more I want to learn,
develop myself  further and just live. I
wish to create happy family and have one more baby and I believe that I will!

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 11, 2011 at 4:02pm

Siba Pachuau i admire people who face challenges boldly and honestly!! all the best elena...my prayers are with you
Comment by Sirinate Piyajitpirat on November 11, 2011 at 2:40pm

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, Elena. Keep up your great work and journey!

Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 11, 2011 at 1:34pm

Beautiful story and picture. Thank you for sharing.

Comment by Dr. Suresh Sundar on November 11, 2011 at 8:29am

Great !!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 10, 2011 at 11:38pm
Siba Pachuau and Hari Singh like this.
Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on November 10, 2011 at 7:51pm

Warm greetings from New York where I read your story. Thanks to you I have a bug smile on my face, and my energy thank is full as  I start a day of meetings!


Thanks Elena



Comment by Gaston on November 10, 2011 at 8:53am

Wow, beautiful story of acknowledgement, recognition and care. I am touched. 

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on November 9, 2011 at 10:29am

I am sure this story will inspire many of us.

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 9, 2011 at 9:20am

Here is beautiful and strong Elena's photo


Comment by Alexandr Radionov on November 8, 2011 at 9:58pm
This story makes you wonder ... over what we live for ... why and how people live near ... I thinkthis story should be compelling for those people who believe that HIV does not concern them.
Thank you Helen for your candor and thank Camilla for that denounced us the story of human life which is next!


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