I was an unruly young person. I ran away from home. I wanted to work and earn money and dress beautifully. When I was about seventeen, I became a go-go dancer—a sex worker—in a bar. My first drug was cocaine. My main addiction was heroin. Later when I was in prison, I began to bleed badly. My friend took me to the hospital infirmary for blood testing. The result showed that I had HIV. I remembered that I had shared needles twice when I was in prison. I’m sure that I got HIV by using the same needle as others. After that, sometimes I sat and cried and almost injected heroin to kill myself by overdosing.
Then I met Aoi, another Through Positive Eyes participant. Aoi takes methadone and he doesn’t suffer and still can work. So I take it too. I can take care of the house and hold down other jobs as well. When I wake up in the morning, I rouse Aoi to go to the methadone clinic. When we come back home, I let him rest.
At this point, at the age of forty, I have been on treatment for three years. When I don’t take methadone, I behave badly. I’m easily upset and moody. When that happens, I feel bad for my dogs. I love them so much and I love my little family here. I don’t want to see my dogs get sad.
I sometimes miss my past, when I was being myself, the real Anocha, who could go anywhere, dress any way, and do anything I wanted to. I am thinking of writing my life story, from the beginning, starting when I became a go-go dancer and continuing until I ended up with HIV. If I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have run away from home. As it is, I have a broken relationship with my family. I only talk with them on the phone. I never visit them and they never visit me. I just got so lost in the colorful nightlife and money.
The three things that encourage me to live my life are the dogs, Aoi, and my community. I always tell myself to fight for my life and stay in this society without the fear of others looking down on me. Now, wherever I go, I feel so proud that I haven’t caused any trouble to anybody, and that I am a good person.