I had the opportunity to interview an amazing woman by the name of Renee Burgess, some people may know her as “Lady Byrd” on Facebook. I was able to ask many different questions that people would want to probably ask her. Before looking over the interview questions and answers please take the time to watch her story on YouTube.
Watch Renee’s Story on YouTube
I did not have a chance to have an in person interview with Renee because we both live in two different states. I do plan on meeting her in person one day. I asked her some questions over the phone and also via email as well.
Questions & Answers
How long have you been HIV-positive?
“I have been positive for 10 years this year on November 21st”
How did you contract the virus?
“I was knowingly infected by my ex-husband“.
What was your first reaction when you found out?
“I was shocked and numb. I couldn’t believe what the doctor was telling me.”
What’s your advice to women and girls who have been recently diagnosed with HIV?
“My advice is to never give up on life. People think that when you’re diagnosed and you have HIV that your life is over and I am here as a witness to say that it’s not over.”
Are you currently in a relationship?
How do you first tell people you’re dating that you’re positive?
“There’s no special way to tell them. You have to be honest and open. If someone feels they have been mislead they might get angry and think you were hiding it on purpose.”
Do you ever get paranoid about passing it on, in the way people who are not HIV positive sometimes are?
“No, because the same way that I have to have sex (with protection) is the same way that anyone is supposed to engage in sex. As long as I do what I am supposed to do then the risk of infecting someone else is less than 1%.”
Am I right to assume you are on a lot of medication? If so, what’s that like?
“No, I only take two pills once a day. Everyone takes a different pill regime. Depends on what your body is resistant to and what it’s not.”
Have you ever been discriminated against at work for being HIV positive?
“No, I never mention it because it’s not required of me to disclose my status to anyone unless we are having sexual contact.”
Has your status affected your view of your future at all?
“It has definitely affected how I view trust. I don’t trust as easy anymore and I am very cautious with my heart and feelings.”
Do you have much hope that scientists are going to develop a full cure?
“I am very hopeful and I believe they are very close to a cure.”
What do you wish other people knew about HIV that they currently seem to be getting wrong?
“I want people to know two things. First, HIV is not a death sentence. If you become infected with HIV you can live just as long as anyone else in life. Secondly, please go and get tested and know your status. Not for anyone else but for you!”
Renee informed me that she has written some books titles include:
HIV Around Me- the E-Book format is the #1 Best Seller in New Releases in children’s Illness
Married: But It Can Happen-is the #1 Best Seller in HIV & AIDS in Kindle
Her nonprofit organization is called the LadyByrd Live Foundation, the mission of the LadyByrd Live Foundation, Inc. is to provide educational resources and community testing for the HIV virus. To spread awareness while reaching out with comprehensive programs and services to people of all ages and backgrounds who are infected and affected by this disease.
The vision of the organization is to raise awareness, increase testing of first-time testers, minimize and reduce the number of newly infected individuals. We hope to encourage healthy behaviors in the community.
Please make sure to purchase Renee’s books and to check out her organization donations are always greatly appreciated to carry out the organization’s mission.
Make sure to get tested and know your status!
After reading this post how do you feel about HIV/AIDS?
Do you feel more afraid of getting tested or less afraid after hearing her story. Why or why not?