SUGAR LAND, Texas (FOX 26) - She was 26-years-old with a nine-month-old baby when she was told she is HIV positive. Tiffany Quinton says she never thought that would be her story. Now that it is, the Houston mom says she'll never stop telling it, as long as there's air in her lungs and new people contracting HIV and AIDS.
"If I don't open my mouth and be a voice I'm just as guilty as the person that gave it to me,” says Quinton. We caught up with Quinton volunteering at a free HIV testing event at University of Houston Sugar Land. "I was infected by a gentleman I was dating. He had it and didn't tell me,” she explains.
Quinton was diagnosed HIV positive 21 years ago, shortly after giving birth to her son. "The lady that gave me my results had never given positive results before and she told me I was getting ready to die,” Quinton said.
After going on an emotional rollercoaster and staying silent about her status for years, she's now spreading awareness about HIV and AIDS, speaking out as much as she can. “Do you know your status? We’re offering free HIV testing today,” she calls out to a passing student.
According to the Centers for Disease Control more than one million Americans are living with HIV and 13 percent of the people who have it, have no idea. That is why mass testing events like this are so important.
Believe it or not, Quinton says a number of people she encounters still have the misconception someone who's HIV positive will look a certain way and lack a certain financial status. ”That's what infected me. (He had a) nice car, money, suit and tie, briefcase,” she says.
Quinton hopes her story will inspire you to stay safe and stay HIV free. "Let my mess be a message for someone else and they don't have to live this life".
If you missed today's event Harris Health System offers free HIV testing regularly at Bentaub and LBJ Hospitals and at Thomas Street Health Center.