Brenda was born and raised in Austin. She attended Reagan High School on the north side of town. In 2012, she found herself homeless and HIV-positive.
When you are homeless, it is hard to enough to find shelter and warmth, get a regular meal, and find a safe place to sleep at night. The smallest things become huge obstacles. Keeping appointments with doctors is hard without transportation. Receiving, storing, and adhering to life-saving HIV medications is difficult. Your health becomes secondary.
Brenda came to ASA for help. ASA case manager, Illene, assisted with stable housing, but Brenda was still struggling with keeping regular appointments and adhering to her HIV medication.
Brenda enrolled in ASA’s Positive Living through Understanding (PLUS) Program. The PLUS Program helps people develop life skills that enable them to keep appointments and improve medication adherence. Participants gain control of their health and improve their HIV viral suppression.
Brenda thrived under the PLUS Program. She gained control over her HIV. And her mental and physical transformation was remarkable. She is proud of her progress. “ASA taught me to just take it one day at a time and do short term goals,” she says. “Its amazing how I can see some of my high school friends and they recognize me right off…Everybody says I look great and haven’t changed a bit.”
“[ASA] made a big difference… I feel real good that I am healthy and strong with a roof over my head.”
“I have to come to understand that I need to take things one thing at a time… It’s getting better all the time.”
Brenda says of her HIV status:
“It’s not nothing that I wanted to hide from anybody… but I have to be cautious of sharing because people take just a little bit and run with it. A lot of people are still ignorant [about HIV]…Once I got my medication, I started to feel better and look better… People are looking at me hard… friends are like ‘she don’t look no different’.”
“To everybody who is HIV positive…It’s not a death sentence anymore. If you take your medication, you can be fine… If you take your medication, you can live a long, long life.”
Brenda took small steps that lead to positive changes in her life. You can too! By taking the step to donate to ASA, you can help central Texans like Benda take control of their health and improve HIV viral suppression.