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‘I’m a fighter’: HIV-positive woman inspiring others with hope

by News Desk
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Former Niagara Falls resident Karrie Worster, who now lives in St. We fight to give hope to others by showing that we are.

Karrie Worster recently got a new chin tattoo. This is a nod to both her Indigenous heritage and her fighting spirit.

She calls it a “warrior tattoo.”

People like myself who are living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have discovered their inner warrior and thanks to advances in medicine, at worst, just one pill a day can help them. A fitting name for a woman who helps her know that an HIV diagnosis is unnecessary. That means she can’t live a full and rewarding life.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system and can progress to full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated.

Wooster, who lived in Niagara Falls and now lives in St. Davids, was diagnosed with HIV in 2014 but believes he was infected more than 15 years ago.

Ultimately, a blood test confirmed that she was HIV positive.

“I was completely devastated,” Wooster said. “I was uneducated about HIV and thought I was going to die.”

Wurster was initially reluctant to make his diagnosis public, fearing the reaction of others. Finally, at her birthday party, she confided in her friends.

“Some of my friends looked at me as if I was already dead,” she said. “Others stopped all communication with me.”

In a circle of about twenty friends, only two remained her friends.

“No one around me had HIV,” Worster said. “I had no one to share my fears with, no one to empathize with. I went through that kind of depression.

She ended up attending an HIV support group meeting and it was a sight to behold.

“I remember being filled with fear and uncertainty about my survival,” she said. “Then when I went to this place, everyone became like me and it was very peaceful.

“At that moment, I said I don’t know what to do, but I want to give someone the same peace.”

She started her own HIV support organization, Hope Algoma, and hopes to rename it Hope Niagara to do the same for the region.

Wurster said people can show such compassion when someone tells them they have cancer or diabetes. Yet the reaction to hearing someone has HIV is all too common.

“When I told people I had HIV, some looked at me like I had leprosy,” she said.

“My goal is to dispel the stigma of HIV and set a positive example so that people diagnosed with HIV can live free of stigma and the shame that comes with it,” she said. Told.

From the initial devastation of her diagnosis, Worster said she found strength.

“Through my HIV journey, I really became myself,” she said.

Positive Living Niagara will mark World AIDS Day on December 1 with a memorial service, flag raising event and Red Scarf Project events in Niagara Falls, St. Catherines and Welland at 6pm at St. Catharines Museum and Canal Center To do.

More than 41 years after the AIDS pandemic began to spread around the world, and hundreds of Niagara residents are living with HIV, the stigma surrounding the virus remains stubborn. .

“These events will raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS, spark conversations, increase understanding of the stigma that still exists, and provide support, solidarity and awareness for people living with HIV in the Niagara region and around the world. It’s an opportunity to act as a symbol,” said Barrett Green.

Wooster was recently diagnosed with cancer and will undergo surgery at Hamilton’s Duravinski Cancer Center. She said she brought that same stubborn determination to overcome her illness.

“I’m a fighter,” she said

The story behind the story: With World AIDS Day set to December 1st, Niagara Dis Week wanted to tell the story of a woman’s journey after being diagnosed with HIV.

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