Living with AIDS

8:48 PM, Oct 14, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Progress has been made with research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 50,000 new infections a year in the U.S.

African Americans account for over 50 percent of all new cases. Days before Atlanta's annual AIDS run-walk, we met Bobbie Bentley, an outspoken young woman who spoke candidly about living with AIDS.

"I was trusting. I was naïve about the reality. I was in love. And I was in a monogamous relationship. And I thought I was safe," Bentley said. "I was 23 years old when I was first diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and I was about a month pregnant."

Now 32 years old and a single mom, Bentley has been living with AIDS for a decade.

"A good day is no dizzy spills, no nauceousness, no weakness out of nowhere," Bentley said.

A cocktail of five daily HIV pills and a half dozen other supplements keep her healthy, but there are unknowns.

"I could develop a resistance to the cocktail or some germ or bacteria could take me out," Bentley said.

She also has physical limitations.

"I'm not able to do or carry out a lot of my dreams," the single mom said.

Like continuing her career as a truck driver. Today, her focus is providing for her healthy 9-year-old who she shields from the media and volunteering with the non-profit AID Atlanta, where she educates about prevention and acceptance.

"There are people in my own family that haven't let me eat off their plates and cups. There are people in my family who have told me I shouldn't kiss my daughter. There are people in my family who refuse to give me a hug," Bentley said.

Through it all she has learned to take pleasure in the simple things, like painting and sewing.

"Things that come from the heart that are made by your own two hands have more value," Bentley said.

And it's cathartic for Bobbie considering the weight of this disease.

"There is no long term strategy," the 32-year-old admits. "There is day by day and celebrating if you make it to the end of the year." 

If you would like to participate in Atlanta's AIDS run-walk on Sunday, October 16, you can register here or at Piedmont Park the day of the event.

The event, produced by AID Atlanta, helps eight community organizations that support people, like Bobbie, living with HIV/AIDS through case management, health care and education. Last year, 10,000 people registered and $920,000 was raised.

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