In 2014, a woman named Anna died in the intensive care unit of the University of Illinois Hospital after contracting HIV.
She was 43 years old.
Anna was a nurse, an immigrant, and a lesbian.
The hospital and the community rallied around her.
They offered a platform and space for her to share her story.
Today, Anna’s story is a model for how women can be supported in a hospital setting.
Anna had the ability to walk out of the hospital and talk about her illness.
Anna would tell her story to strangers, people who cared for her, and her closest friends.
Anna did it for them and for others.
She did it because she believed in healing and she was willing to work with others to do the same.
Today Anna’s legacy is that she was not alone.
Many of us, including me, have to walk away from the hospital, often without the support of our families, friends, or even family members.
Today we can do that.
We can work with our partners and friends to provide support and resources to our partners in a safe and respectful setting.
When Anna died, the hospital took steps to make sure that her death was a preventable tragedy.
It offered her an HIV test.
It took a few weeks to provide the medical care she needed and that she needed to survive.
But it is the community that can create safe spaces for survivors.
Anna’s death was not a tragic event.
She lived a life that was beautiful, full of love, and full of hope.
The health care community and the rest of us have a responsibility to honor Anna’s memory and to work to make a difference for all people who are struggling with HIV.
To learn more about HIV prevention and treatment at the local level, read our HIV Prevention and Treatment resources.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to help prevent and treat HIV in your community, contact the National Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Health Promotion (NCHOPHP).