Mona – (They Call her Dr. Mona)

Mona – (They Call her Dr. Mona)


“Are you just going to be like all those
other researchers and do nothing?” “how is this project different?” she asked When she said that I laughed nervously and really felt the importance and the
weight of this project’s potential. As a
physician I had preconceived notions that the
women would talk about their HIV medications and side effects but
they kept bringing up stigma, discrimination, over and over again I hadn’t even thought about that. We
don’t get taught about stigma in medical school. They
talked about isolation, housing issues, depression and the trauma they had experienced. The
women’s voices changed me as a doctor forever. Before
when I saw a patient I would ask about the HIV medications
and wave my finger about how important adherence was.
Now I start by asking “how are you doing?” I ask about depression housing, finances, I ask about their
children their immigration process, and their stigma.
I ask how can I help you? I try to do
everything they need in one visit I do their pap smears, I fill in all
their paperwork they can bring their children, they can
bring their partners I think more health care should be
coordinated to meet all the women’s needs in one
visit The women’s voices also changed me as a
person. I talk about HIV and equity all the time. About how people with HIV
can take medications and survive sixty years from diagnosis
and how they can have healthy babies. One of the most rewarding stories was
when my dad and stepmom told me that one day a delivery man came to their house to
deliver a bed and saw a magazine picture of me on the
wall. They started bragging about how I work with HIV positive
people to help them and I help them get pregnant safely and
how it was so great. Halfway through the visit the man turned
to them and said “I’m HIV-positive”. He had never
told any strangers that before. I was so proud that my family could create a safe space
for that man to open up to them free of judgment. The potential I see is a world free of all judgment where everyone could be fully open. This is what our research is working towards

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