HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Tonya Miller has been living with Aids for the last 22 years.
“It was a long journey, personally for me, when you first find out you’re diagnosed, it’s like heartfelt. You know it’s the end of the world. Today it just actually shows the world that there’s no stigma about it. There’s no such thing as ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a death sentence’. We’re passed that,” says Miller.
Miller admits she didn’t get to this point on her own. The support of family and friends helped her find a life past the disease.
It’s the same attitude that women at Baystate Health’s Whitney Avenue Conference Center are hoping to carry with them, not only for those infected, but affected by the disease.
“I take 8 pills before I go to bed every night, and heavy side effects. But stigma is still one of the hardest things to live with this virus,” Keynote Speaker Marvelyn Brown said.
Executive Director of The AIDS Foundation of Western Mass, Jessica Crevier was one of BusinessWest’s “40 under 40″ last year. She says continuing this kind of work is truly important.
“It’s really wonderful to come to work every day and do a job that has meaning, to have people come into the office and tell you what it means to them,” Crevier notes.
Recent strides, like the Mississippi baby cured of HIV encourages women like Marvelyn.
“It’s just hope that one day I won’t have to live with a life threatening illness,” Who hopes that day comes sooner, rather than later.
This is the second year The AIDS Foundation of Western Mass. has hosted the free conference.