When you’re pregnant and living with HIV, where do you turn?
LeSherri James, MACA Board Vice President & Secretary (2019 to 2021)
Excerpted from original post in the Black Women’s Empowerment Blog (2016)
In 2003, I was in college and homeless. I felt completely helpless and had nowhere to turn. I also thought I might be pregnant so I went to the doctor to make sure.
The doctor confirmed the pregnancy and a diagnosis of HIV. Pregnancies for women living with HIV are often filled with unsympathetic strangers, family members and even medical professionals. Lucky for me, my mother was with me every step of the way, but I needed more support navigating living with HIV and being pregnant.
I needed an HIV specialist and an OB specialist who felt comfortable working with pregnancy and HIV. Eventually, I was connected to a university-based hospital and a social worker who connected me to MACA.
My MACA case manager genuinely cared about my health and wellbeing. She made sure I got to my doctor’s appointments on time, filled my prescriptions and enrolled me in prenatal classes so I could learn how to better care for my child. She also helped me sign up for health insurance and food assistance and to find my very own apartment. The support MACA provided is the reason my daughter was born without HIV!
And even after I delivered, MACA continued to empower and teach me how to be a strong and independent mother – something I wouldn’t be without them.
I can’t imagine my life without this organization. Besides my mother, MACA was the only support I had during my pregnancy. Today, I am able to provide for myself and my children and, most importantly, my daughter and son are completely healthy!