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Living with AIDS in Watsonville
Author: Claudia Ramos

My cousin died of AIDS three years ago. Then, the only 
thing I knew about HIV was it is transmitted sexually 
or by using needles. I wanted to learn more. Like, 
what a person with AIDS really goes through. I asked 
the local AIDS Project to help me find someone who 
could talk to me about living with the disease.
“I have no idea when I got it,” said 40 year-old 
Anthony, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1992. After a 
former partner was diagnosed with the virus, Anthony 
went to the clinic to get tested. That is when he 
found out that he too had a positive diagnosis. I was 
impressed by Anthony’s courage. I don’t know if I 
would have the nerve to go to the clinic and get 
When he found out he was HIV positive, “My first 
reaction was to cry and think, ‘When am I going to 
die? How long do I have to live?’” said Anthony. “My 
life changed completely after that. I was only 30 
years old.” Just imagine, in a matter of seconds, the 
diagnosis of a deadly disease can change your life. 
“Back then it was pretty much the death sentence,” 
said Anthony. When Anthony was diagnosed in 1992, 
talking about AIDS was a big issue—no one wanted to 
know the truth about the disease. 
I asked Anthony if, before he tested positive, he knew 
a person could get AIDS from having unprotected sex. 
He said he was aware of the risks, but it never 
occurred to him that he should use protection until 
after he was diagnosed. Like many of us, Anthony did 
not believe it would happen to him.
I asked Anthony what it was like to know he was HIV 
positive. “Life is not easy,” Anthony explained. “I 
take about 25 pills a day” to help control the 
disease. He paused for a long time, let out a big sigh 
and said, “When a person is healthy, I think they take 
their good health for granted. You don’t realize what 
you have until it is taken away.” 
Anthony wants people to know, “Just because you have a 
partner and you’ve been together for a while, doesn’t 
mean you shouldn’t be safe. You need to be safe no 
matter what.”