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Category ArchiveCatherine’s Blog

AIDS Memoir – Book Review

Catherine Wyatt-Morley, while refusing to play a victim, presents the physical, psychological and social reality of living with HIV/AIDS. Her story is one of love, faith and hope in the direst circumstances. Separating disease fact from fiction, she provides a rare view into an adverse world that must simultaneously be combated and embraced.

 

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To purchase this book, go here!

Leave your comments below. We want to hear what you thought of her book!

*W.O.M.E.N. would like to thank the Old Wilmington Road Neighborhood Resource Center Book Club for making this book part of their collection and current focus. Thank you all for your support.

When Faced with Resistance…

When faced with resistance, apply persistence! 

…Things You Should Know about HIV and Safer Sex (cont.)

  1. If you chose to have sex, use a latex condom with EVERY partner. No exceptions.
  2. Use protection, wear a latex condom.
  3. Use a new latex condom each time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  4. Use water based lubricant with latex condoms.
  5. Never use an oil-based lubricant such as hand lotion or baby oil. It weakens the latex and the condom may break.
  6. Use a latex barrier (a condom cut in half or a dental dam) if you have oral sex with a women.
  7. Massage, hugging and masturbation are safe.
  8. It’s safer not to use drugs.
  9. Insist on watching your NEW tattoo needle come out of packaging before getting a tattoo. Never share needles or inks for tattooing or piercing.
  10. NO CONDOM, NO SEX, NO WAY.” tells your partner you’re serious about safer sex.
  11. Talk about safer sex with EVERY partner before you have sex.
  12. Ask your partner about his/her sexual history, behaviors and drug usage before you engage in any sexual activity.
  13. If you are infected and do not inform your sexual partner of your HIV status before sex and you engage in unprotected sex and transmit HIV to that person you have committed a felony.
  14. Taking a HIV test is the only way to know you are not infected.
  15. Get tested three to six months after any unprotected exposure.
  16. You have options. You can buy a home HIV test kit at most drug stores. Then contact the nearest community based organization for counseling or to ask questions. You can also get tested by a doctor, health clinic, community based organization or public testing center.
  17. Some testing sites keep results confidential while others utilize anonymous testing. Confidential testing uses your real name. You and your doctor will know the results. Anonymous testing doesn’t use your name at all. Only you will know your results.
  18. People are still dying of AIDS related illnesses.
  19. THERE IS NO CURE! Remember you are in charge.

15 Things You Should Know about HIV and Safer Sex

  1. Anyone can get HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
  2. HIV attacks your body’s immune system.
  3. A person with HIV may get sick with certain diseases and then be diagnosed with AIDS.
  4. Many people who have AIDS in their twenties become infected with HIV in their teens.
  5. You can be infected with HIV for 10 or more years without having any recognizable symptoms.
  6. You can’t tell by looking if someone has HIV.
  7. You can take steps to protect yourself from HIV. Put yourself first. Get tested today.
  8. If you put yourself at risk you can become infected with HIV. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU ARE.
  9. You are at risk any time you exchange body fluids (semen, blood, vaginal fluids or breast milk).
  10. You can become infected if you have sex with an infected person.
  11. Unprotected sex among infected partners may cause cross-infection resulting in drug resistance.
  12. You can also become infected if you share needles or syringes with an infected person.
  13. HIV is not passed through hugging, hand shaking, and coughing, talking, sneezing or toilet seats, water fountains, bathrooms or eating utensils.
  14. Safer sex means taking steps to protect yourself.
  15. Choosing not to have sex is safest.

Purpose and…

Live purposefully. You only have one life to get it right. You were born, you live and then you die. Time moves quickly. Time ticks into days, traveling into weeks, progressing into months, falling into years, running into decades. What did you do with the time between ticking, traveling, progressing, falling and running?

When life happens and your midnight hour comes and your mind becomes the battlefield and your body weakens under the pressure and the winds pierce your soul and the storms of life cause torrential downpours and difficulty becomes your second skin and your blood boils in despair and everything seems to come against you and heartbreak rocks your world and the pit of down consumes you and up is located on another planet, live purposefully.

At the end of life material wealth will all be put on a shelf. All that stuff -diamonds, gold, silver- we just can’t get enough- cars, houses, clothes and even your cherished bling won’t mean a thing. 

What will matter will be who’s life you made richer, deeper, stronger, meaningful. Empowerment with a purpose! Who will remember you when you are gone? When your last breath has been drawn and you lay hands crossed and the music stops and the dirt covers your hole in the ground and the flowers have withered away and the time between ticking, traveling, progressing, falling and running has passed, did you live purposefully? Each of us has a purpose, a destiny. 

A Mother’s Journey

A MOTHER’S JOURNEY

by Catherine Wyatt-Morley 

My husband and I sat impatiently in the crowded waiting room of my OBGYN. It was to be a follow up visit after a hysterectomy and reconstructive surgery I had in March. But at 2:00 pm on April 12, 1994 my life changed forever. On that day my doctor told my husband and I that I had tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus – the virus that causes AIDS. I was devastated, scared, confused and felt like someone had just taken my life. Fear gripped me, tears flooded my face, running like water from a spout. My body shook. “I’m married and have been faithful,” I said, as I looked at my husband whose eyes filled with tears. 

My thoughts turned to my children. Instinctively, I was afraid for my babies. I could hear words coming from the doctors mouth, but they seemed to dissipate into thin air. The room fell silent, then an unspoken stare between my husband and me was broken by his words.  “It seems logical that I be tested”. The doctor agreed and immediately scheduled his test for the same day. Again, words were exchanged between them but like massive boulders they crashed heavy onto the floor. The air became thick and I found it difficult to breathe. The office began to spin. I heard the doctor say, “ I’m sorry Catherine.” 

My husband took my arm and stood me up. My knees weak, I felt as if I were delivered into the invisible hands of hell. The world seemed somehow different. “HIV, HIV, oh my God, HIV,” I kept saying. My husband placed me in the front seat of the car and walked slowly to the emergency entrance of the hospital where they were waiting for him. As he left my view, alone I began to cry. Bloodcurdling wails filled the car. I screamed until my face turned red and my body shook. I yelled until I lost my voice. Doubled over in pain from the surgery I curled up in a ball. Then I cried some more.  As I held my stomach I repeated “My babies, what about my babies?” My husband returned to the car and we drove home in silence. Ten days later the foundation of my life was again ripped away by his HIV positive diagnosis. Immediately he was put on AZT.

A month passed, I went to see the medical director where I was employed taking documentation that verified my medical condition and requested his assistance. He offered no help. “Go home get your will made out, find a place for your kids to live, you are going to die.” His cruel words cut through me. Three days later I got a call. The male voice on the other end of the telephone said, “Don’t think about comin’ back to work, nobody wants you here.” The caller hung up. I stood looking at the phone wondering who it was on the other end and what he knew. I never told my husband. Eventually I lost my job and with it my medical insurance, 401k and retirement benefits.

A few weeks later I went to my Church seeking solace. After sharing my anguish of diagnosis and my experience with my employer, he didn’t have much to say. He listened unmoved, offering nothing, not even a prayer. I desperately wanted prayer but got nothing. I was told I couldn’t come back to church because “We can’t have that here. What will the other parishers say? You can’t take Communion with them”. 

Time passed,  the children were confused, my husband plummeted head first into drinking withdrawing from fatherhood and our marriage while my thoughts turned to suicide.  No job, No friends, No church, No hope. Death seemed the only way I could take control of HIV before HIV took control of me.  As I watched my husband sink rapidly into his own terror, my hells fire intensified. Screaming until I had no voice. I grieved my life. There was no one there willing to help. No one could help!  Only me, alone. Oh God, my children.  Who would raise my babies? No one molds a child like their mother. 

In a matter of months I had lost my job, my marriage, my friends and my church.  My husband was lost in the bottom of a vodka bottle. Without his security I was alone in the silence of confusion and despair facing the death sentence the doctor had given me.CatherineOutside

As I watched my husband I became angry. I became empowered by my anger. I became a pissed off black woman. Determination consumed me. I refused to take on the actions of my husband, rejecting others cruel words of hatred that haunted my every waking moment. I had to do something with all of the rejection, isolation, humiliation and loss.  God help me, there was so much loss.

Instead of death, I made the decision to choose life. I chose life for my children. I chose life for me. I chose life for the voiceless. I decided in my midnight hour to make my life matter, to make a difference for other women who were suffering in silence. With whatever time I had left above ground I was determined to make as big a foot print as possible.

Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, a 501(c) 3 non-profit was born in my Brentwood home.  With my children by my side, W.O.M.E.N. became the central focus of my work on earth.  Today W.O.M.E.N. is the only HIV focused community based agency found, organized and administered by a  three time published author and African American mother living with AIDS in the state of Tennessee.

This year marks 19 years since my diagnosis and the birth of W.O.M.E.N. Out of the mist of uncertainty, certainly there has been many challenges over the years. In 2009 I was hospitalized eight days with yet another Opportunistic Infection (OI). Unmistakably AIDS at its best. I experienced parts of AIDS I had not known. Often I’ve heard, “you don’t look like you have HIV.” Trust me, I look like AIDS! It never leaves me.  Many lives have been lost to AIDS related illness while the stigma deepened its hold and rates of infection skyrocket.

The color of HIV/AIDS has become African American/Black/Mocha/Chocolate/Tan and the gender of AIDS has disproportionately become female. HIV/AIDS has become me! It is problematic to me that black women comprise only 12 percent of the female population in the United States, yet we accounted for more than 64 percent of women living with HIV/AIDS. It is not only problematic, but troubling in that funding has not kept pace with the face of HIV/AIDS.

Against this backdrop I recognized one solution.  In almost two decades of giving my life to the service of others mentoring, counseling and most importantly listening to women and families rich and poor, educated and illiterate, homeless and living in million dollar mansions; I understood the need for a new course of action. That action is W.O.M.E.N.’s H.O.U.S.E.; a culturally sensitive; gender specific holistic structure which utilizes an educational platform built upon economic and sustainable health outcomes for infected women.  

In sharing this vision with thousands of other HIV positive women, our collective voice recommends the facilities effectiveness be intersected with a case management and behavioral research infrastructure integrated into holistic approaches to care.  Having read about it on our web site, women from around the world inquire about the facility.

Clearly, the divine plan for my life was not only the creation of W.O.M.E.N., but to exceed that by implementing this unique one of a kind gender-centered facility.

Paying it forward is everyone’s responsibility!

 

Catherine Wyatt-Morley Visits the Today Show

W.O.M.E.N.’s founder and CEO, Catherine Wyatt-Morley is taking on the Big Apple! Catherine is in town  to receive the “Women Doing Good” award from SELF Magazine. While visiting NYC, Catherine had the opportunity to sit down with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kobt of the Today Show to discuss “Women Doing Good” and her efforts to educate women about HIV/AIDS.

Recently, Catherine was selected from thousands of nominations received by SELF detailing exceptional strength and determination as told by colleagues, family and friends. Catherine received a $10,000 award to further her efforts to bridge the service gaps to reduce health disparities and will be honored at an award gala hosted by Hoda Kotb, of the Today Show.

 

Click here to see Catherine on the Today Show.

 

Catherine Wyatt-Morley Honored By SELF Magazine

Every year SELF Magazine honors Women Doing Good; honorees are real women doing real things to make a difference despite personal adversity. The women honored have used action to heal and shift their energy into creating something positive and uplifting to benefit others.

Catherine Wyatt-Morley, Founder and CEO of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition, is among those being honored by SELF for her tireless efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“My wish is for every woman to be educated about this issue. Married women think they’re immune to the virus. But no one is an exception with AIDS. I want to reach that woman over 50 who thinks she can have unprotected sex or the young girl who is just starting to date”, says Wyatt-Morley. 

Catherine Wyatt-Morley, Founder and CEO of Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition is among those being honored by SELF Magazine for her tireless efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  

Because of this wish, Wyatt-Morley has spent the last 18 years battling HIV/AIDS for not only herself; but for future generations, in hopes that her struggles will prevent others from becoming infected with HIV.

Click here to read the full article.

Catherine Wyatt-Morley Wages War Against HIV/AIDS

In 1994, after being diagnosed with HIV, Catherine Wyatt-Morley was given 6 years to live. Almost eighteen years later, she’s still fighting while also helping others along the way.

Wyatt-Morley recently sat down with The Tennessean and Voice of America to discuss her struggles, triumphs and what she is doing to help others who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS.

 

“Mother reaches out to others with HIV”

Voice of America

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