NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It is a painful prognosis. There are nearly 4,000 people in Davidson County reportedly living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) but a Nashville woman living with HIV for nearly 30 years is trying to change the stigma surrounding the disease.
Margaret Williams, 65, says she knows she reached rock bottom in November of 1990 after doctors had diagnosed her with the disease at that time. She contracted the virus from a needle while using drugs. In 2000, after a visit to a local ER with a 104 body temperature, Williams said she was ready to turn her life around.
"I lost a lot of friends through this HIV and a nephew. So I was not going to let my family see me at my worst. I was not going to let them see me die with this," she said.
Since 2009, Williams has volunteered at Nashville CARES --- a non-profit that support people living with HIV and those at risk.
"I had a rough life and being able to give back to Nashville CARES has helped me especially in my recovery cause I was heavy into drugs. This has really helped me as far as my recovery and also learning how to live with HIV," she said.
Williams plans to continuing advocating for HIV Prevention. On Saturday, she'll walk in the 2019 Nashville AIDS Walk at Public Square Park. She set a goal to raise at least $3,000.
"Find you something that you are passionate about. That's the way it's going to help you in your recovery and help you live with HIV and that's what I did. I started volunteering back in 2009," Williams said.
Nashville CARES CEO Amna Osman said fundraising is critical and helps support people throughout Middle Tennessee.
"Without these fundraising initiatives organizations such as ours we can't really support people to provide the full continuum of services but it's not just all about the dollars. It's about raising awareness of HIV and how we collectively as a community end this HIV epidemic," Osman said.
The annual Nashville AIDS Walk starts at 9:00 a.m. at Public Square Park. Participants can register day of with a $5 entrance fee.