BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — Cassandra Whitty never thought she'd be diagnosed with HIV. "I couldn't believe it happened to me. I questioned God. Why me?"
Whitty had been experiencing flu-like symptoms since 1995. She was treated for the wrong illness for years.
"Surely, I would have known if I was HIV positive," she says.
In November of 2000, her doctor delivered the bad news. "He walked in and told me, Ms. Whitty, you don't have to worry about not knowing anymore. You're HIV positive," she says. "I was literally in shock."
Whitty thought her life was over. "I thought I was dying," she says. "Back then, it was a death sentence."
Twelve years later, Whitty is in pretty good health. She's had a lot of time to decide how to live her life with the infection. "I was angry," she explains, "but what was I going to do about it? The damange had been done. I could either let this disease consume me and take me out, or I could fight to live."
Today, Whitty tries to educate people, starting a conversation about staying safe. "If you're having unprotected sex, protect yourself," she says. "You know what you're doing. Do you know what your partner is doing?"
Her biggest advice? Get tested. "I want the numbers to stop," she says. "Know your status!" Her biggest hope is that her words can keep others from making the same mistake she made.
"If I knew back then what I know now, I would have protected myself, but I had unprotected sex. Would I do it today? No!"
Learn about how to get tested at www.batonrougeaidssociety.com.