In 2018, I was diagnosed with HIV. The beginning of that year was filled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I dwelled in my own pain and suffocated in internalized stigma, until I decided it was time to bring light back into my life, time to go deeper and to face the shadows of such a difficult situation.
I am Felice, HIV educator, diversity consultant and yoga teacher. The story I shared is just the beginning of a journey of self-healing and personal growth, a story of how it’s possible to adopt tools like journaling or meditation to transform.
HIV not only became the catalyst for my holistic growth but the incredible opportunity to share a life-changing experience on social media — through the @borntobelove.community on Instagram — to generate awareness, information and to create a social impact.
Such a vulnerable moment of evolution set the ground for the first online course to guide people living with HIV through a journey of self-healing and personal growth: From Zero to HIV Hero is the first course of its kind, since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, because it supports people beyond the virus, tackling the person as such, holistically.
The online course addresses common challenges such as loneliness or rejection, often causes of early depression and anxiety. Living with HIV can be a solo journey, a complex experience where one becomes the very enemy of oneself nurturing internalized stigma and fears. The acceptance becomes harder while dealing with hospital and doctors, trying to symbolically digest one pill, every single day, for the rest of the life while managing unexpected side effects.
After the initial shock, HIV becomes easier to accept as a medical condition thanks to modern antiretroviral therapies that bring the viral load to levels that makes it impossible to transmit the virus. Meanwhile, socially it is not easy to address doubts and fears that arises in relationship with others, especially when it comes to love, family, friends or professional life. Sadly, a large number of people doesn’t have access to antiretroviral therapy, making it harder to deal with HIV in every aspect.
From Zero to HIV Hero is designed to offer innovative points of view on the mentioned challenges through short, inspiring videos. Initially, my personal experience is presented to create a sense of connection with the possibility to face HIV in a holistic way: the viewer is guided to consider things from a new perspective and to look for empowering questions.
Each video comes with a worksheet to encourage journaling and meditation as tools to enhance self-healing and personal growth. The person is not invited to follow a specific belief; it is empowered, instead, to design its best way to navigate life beyond the virus. My biggest intention as HIV educator, yoga teacher and consultant, in fact, is to empower each person to unfold their true nature and to begin a unique process of evolution.
The greatest mission I have at the moment is to impact the major number of people through the online course From Zero to HIV Hero, to create an empowered generation of people living with HIV: a generation that’s not obliged to live at the margins of society and can, instead, gain a voice in relevant spaces. This is one of the reasons for the price to be accessible: with a little investment everyone can have access to the online course forever and respect its own healing time and process.
One of the most profound learnings I had is that HIV was not an enemy to fight or to reject and rather an aspect of life to embrace: the more I faced reality and handled it with full love and respect the more I found opportunities to transform my condition. I finally stopped to be shaped by HIV, instead, I set the foundation to shape my perception of it and to be the hero of my story.
I was able to decode a strategy to step away from limiting conditioning and, finally, to share my gift with the majority of people, to spread love about HIV and to create a growing community based on humanity and compassion.