A woman who believed she’d never be a mum because of her HIV, now has two children and is helping to raise much needed awareness about human immunodeficiency viruses.
Sasha Goodman, from Milton Keynes, was diagnosed with HIV when she was just five years old, having contracted the virus while still in her mother’s womb.
The diagnosis came after she struggled to recover from chicken pox, with the virus attacking her immune system.
Sasha, 30, had a very difficult childhood. Raised by her grandparents, she was bed bound for two years and had to learn to walk all over again, due to the devastating side effects.
From a young age, Sasha also came to know the pain of stigma around HIV. As a teen, she confided in a friend who proceeded to tell others at their school.
The subsequent bullying was so severe, Sasha felt forced to quit before having the chance to sit her exams.
After her own mother died from Aids, Sasha no longer felt in control of her own life.
With everything she’d been through, it’s unsurprising Sasha entered adulthood feeling apprehensive about certain issues, especially motherhood.
However, seven years ago she found love with supportive partner Jay Hart, who’s since helped her work towards greater self acceptance, as well as encouraging her to take her medication properly.
Speaking about how they fell for each other, Sasha explained:
I never thought I would ever be a mum, I was petrified to have a boyfriend as I didn’t want to infect anyone.
When I met Jay seven years ago in the pub, I did already have my eldest son who I knew didn’t have HIV.
I fell completely head over heels in love with Jay but I was scared he might reject me once he found out.
He handled it so well, and we used a condom to ensure he was safe while he helped me accept that I had HIV.
Sasha already had a child before she met 32-year-old Jay, and when the time came for the couple to expand their young family, they sought medical help.
Sasha is treated for her HIV with antiretroviral medication, which stops the virus replicating within her body. This medication allows Sasha’s immune system to repair itself, while preventing further damage.
According to Sasha, this medication meant the chance of Jay contracting HIV while they were trying to conceive was ‘very small’:
Due to being on the medication the amount of HIV in my blood count was low, which meant that although there was a risk Jay would get HIV from me when we tried for a child, it was very small.
1 in 5 people with HIV in England & Wales feel isolated or lonely.
Read their stories in the Changing Perceptions reports: https://t.co/uyFTlpuFFm
This data analysed with the involvement of people living with HIV. Research *with* the groups affected, not simply 'on' them. pic.twitter.com/lbh4iMwpSw
— National AIDS Trust (@NAT_AIDS_Trust) December 6, 2018
Speaking of her treatment, Sasha said:
The best thing I ever did was get support and I am now lucky to help other people who are suffering in silence while refusing to take their medication.
It is a form of slow suicide because they are so scared of other people finding out, but actually HIV is very manageable, there is no reason for anyone with it to not lead a normal life.
None of my family have HIV despite me and Jay having unprotected sex to start a family, this is something that fascinates some people as they seem to think it’s highly contagious.
According to The National Aids Trust, 97 per cent of those receiving treatment for HIV are virally suppressed, meaning they can’t pass the virus on to others.
Now a happy mother, partner and activist, Sasha is working to address the unfair and harmful stigma against those living with HIV.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.