This is Yvonne, a resilient woman who has courageously navigated life with HIV for twenty-five years. Like many others, Yvonne’s journey began with the pursuit of love and the dream of a happily ever after. However, her reality shifted drastically after a routine sexual health screening, where she was offered an HIV test—an option she never imagined needing. The positive diagnosis sent Yvonne spiralling into a surreal realm of fear and disbelief. Driving aimlessly in her car, she grappled with the overwhelming fear of mortality, repeating the mantra, “I don’t want to die.”

When Yvonne summoned the courage to inform her family and friends, she was met with abandonment, adding another layer of heartache to her already shattered world. Facing the prospect of treatment, Yvonne was hesitant, influenced by cultural beliefs that shunned medication and concerns about the unknown long-term effects. Her doctor’s inability to provide reassuring answers to her fertility and motherhood inquiries left her feeling paralysed by indecision. Eventually, she chose to forego medication, only to confront the harsh reality of her diagnosis in 2015 when her health deteriorated, leading to a hospital visit where she was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer.

Yvonne’s journey was further complicated by medical professionals’ disbelief in women contracting HIV, exacerbating her feelings of isolation and misunderstanding. Despite all of this, Yvonne has remained loved and supported by her husband and son. Motivated by her harrowing experiences, Yvonne now channels her energy into advocating for others through her work with George House Trust. She is determined to ensure that no one else faces the same hardships she endured. Recognising the vital role of support organisations in empowering those living with HIV, Yvonne tirelessly dedicates herself to initiatives that promote emotional and mental well-being. As the Women’s Activity Officer and a Peer Mentor, she amplifies her voice through the Positive Speakers Programme, striving to reshape societal perceptions and dismantle stigma surrounding HIV. Through her resilience and advocacy, Yvonne embodies the spirit of hope and resilience, inspiring others to embrace life with courage and compassion.