Teniecka Hannah, 26, sits in a coffee shop sipping a latte and talking about her dreams for the future a degree, a career, a marriage and five kids. But it's a future she'll have to put on hold for now. She's about to embark on a bus tour of 35 cities to tell the story of how she contracted HIV.
As part of the national "Operation: Get Tested" campaign, Hannah and five others from around the country will attempt to humanize HIV for students and urge them to learn their HIV status.
"We chose Teniecka because she has an amazing story to tell," says Tom Donohue, the tour's organizer.
Hannah's story is unique, mostly because of what happened before she was diagnosed. She was just 20 years old, and in a two-year relationship that she thought was monogamous. When she surprised her partner with a visit to the military base where he was stationed, she was shocked to learn that he was, in fact, already married.
More bad news followed. When she contracted a throat infection after their break-up, the doctor ran tests. It was then that she learned she had HIV.
Dispelling myths is one of Hannah's goals. Some people fear touching a person with HIV. Some tell her that HIV is God's punishment.
"I think they are wrong," she says. "They wouldn't say that about cancer or diabetes. If I didn't have faith in God, I wouldn't be here today. That's what keeps me going and looking toward the future."
Meet Hannah at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Colorado College's Bemis Hall.
story and photo by Jill Thomas
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