Previous Gallery
Next Gallery
Print Thread
RiseUpToHIV: Maralyn Gill #456385
01/26/13 08:03 AM
01/26/13 08:03 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 70,236
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

RiseUpToHIV: Maralyn Gill

My name is Maralyn Gill, I am 57 years old, mother of 3, grandmother of 8 and a widow. I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2004 in the small Central American country of Belize. We moved to Belize in 1991, my husband was from there was and in 1996 we opened our restaurant and it was quite a success. We were married for 18 years in what i thought was a monogamous marriage, or so I thought, until 2001 when my husband turned fifty and went flipsy and left me for a young Honduran girl. Later that year in 2001 just after 9/11, we lost everything in a category 5 hurricane and 2 weeks after that my husband was found dead in Belize City.

I reopened my restaurant on a small island there but started getting ill with flu like symptoms and night sweats. After much antibiotics and then told it was probably just menopause for the following 3 years. In 2004 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis A while on vacation in Miami and hospitalized for 10 days and was given an array of tests including an HIV test but upon release I was told to rest when I got home and I assumed all tests came back negative no problem. When we got back to Belize I still was not doing well and went to a specialist in internal medicine.

After another array of tests he called me into his office and sat me down. The good news he said was that I didn't have cancer but the bad news after checking it twice was that I had tested positive with HIV. I was devastated and questioned how did and when did I catch it. This could not be happening to me. There was no counselor to talk to and was directed to go to the only HIV specialist that had a office at the socialized hospital or go to his private office but everyone knew what he specialized in and get the only meds available at a clinic in Belize City and again everyone knew why u were going there. there was no confidentiality and word travels fast. the first thing i had to do was call a family meeting and share the news.

First denial set in and after receiving a phone call from the hospital in Miami asking me to fly back up because they had test results they needed to see me in person to share with me, I thanked them and told them I already knew. That meant 3 tests came back positive and we sat there shocked, confused and scared. I had lost a friend to Aids in the early 80's and watching him waste away in pain till death this was something I couldn't put my family thru. I had no idea of the stigma i was about to encounter. My son had just had his first child and when he shared this news with his Belizean wife with the quickness she told him i could not be in the same room with the baby. My son asked the doctor to explain that I could not infect anyone that easily.

I then contacted the men I had been intimate with and thank god no one caught it from me. As word spread I went into a deep depression and never walked into the kitchen of my restaurant again. The restaurant next to mine actually built a metal fence between the two restaurants. I tried the meds that were available and all the meds available were all no longer used in America and I got so sick from the meds that I decided I'd rather die. Tried to get as much info over the net but hopelessness took over and started a horrible cocaine and alcohol habit and stayed in my room for four years trying to die.

There was nothing my family could do and my daughter dropped out of college to run the restaurant for me. She did everything possible to try to help me but realized she just couldn't watch me dying and she moved to Portland Oregon. I continued on my self destruction and by the end of February 2008 the doctors in Belize told me there was nothing more they could do for me. By March 3rd I was on a plane to Portland Oregon.

After arriving my daughter immediately checked me in to OHSU a teaching university hospital where I was met by caring folks with so much compassion. I weighed 127 pounds, I'm 5'8" and diagnosed with full blown AIDS and opportune infections including a yeast infection thru my esophagus and rest of my body, PTSD and heavy depression plus my addictions. I started on meds and saw the psychiatrist. The shrink walked in the door and his first statement was "so u got AIDS from intravenous drug use "and my reply was"No I got it from my dead husband's penis" I had no idea how much stigma I was now going to have to deal with. I then went to Cascade Aids Project for an intake appointment and again treated with much compassion and the resources available for me and support amazing. I was told about a woman's group called the Women of Wisdom. I met other women of all ages and we all had one thing in common. Our disease. With the support of these women I never went to rehab and am free of cocaine for 5 years now.

I lost my restaurant in Belize and have not returned to Belize. it is now the number 1 country in Central America with HIV per populous and will continue to be because they will not use condoms (its not manly) and men have wife, girlfriends and sweethearts and then some of the men are in the closet and then the women have their guys also. It's a mess. I have been very active in my community to now give back from all that I received thru this wonderful community that has welcomed me with open arms. I have done some peer mentoring, participated in all the aids walks and was on the billboards campaign for the 2011 Aids Walk and do speaking engagements about the plight of women that are infected. First of all we all knew this as a gay mans disease and the meds have not specifically tested women so a 280 pound man takes the same meds as a 135 pound woman and we won't even talk about the side effects.

The hormonal and emotional reality for women who still take care of the children and don't have time to be exhausted. I led a round table discussion at the national minority aids conference in 2010 about women and aging with HIV which we still don't have enough testing or information on. It's all the unknown that is so frustrating. I will continue to speak out to the older women who believe that are recent widows and new divorcees that have not been in the dating world and know that the main worry was getting pregnant or a curable STD. No there is HIV out there and u can't smell it and its not visable.

The other problem I find these days is the attitude of its no big deal u just take some pills and u can live forever you won't die from it. What about the fact that I lost 70 percent of one of my kidneys due to a bad reaction from Atripila and a full knee replacement due to a disease that caused my bones to die in my knee and is now in the other knee. HIV is still a disease with no cure. Hopefully in my lifetime we will go to Zero and in my prayers I hope to go back to Belize to share everything I have learned up here in Portland and see the change from people dying from Aids in Belize to living with a chronic disease. I will continue my activism in my community anxious to give back in thanks for giving me life again. special thanks to cascade aids project and women of wisdom. Without support the process would be unbearable. As a Positive widowed Woman my social life is lonely and don't know what lies ahead but will continue my work as a Positive Woman sharing my story to help others following in my footprints and to help prevent future infection


Re: RiseUpToHIV: Maralyn Gill [Re: Marty] #456439
01/26/13 01:29 PM
01/26/13 01:29 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,545
Birdland - 1 mile north
ScubaLdy Offline
ScubaLdy  Offline
Dear – dear Maralyn:
I am sitting her on north Ambergris Caye crying as I read your story. I don’t know if you remember me; I met you in ’98 or ’01 when you had Rasta Pasta in San Pedro. For some reason I felt a real connection to you and have followed your life a little and ask your son about you periodically. I remember when you moved to Caye Caulker and when Albert died (murdered?).
The words are all jammed up in my head and my eyes and nose are both leaking. God bless you for posting your story. You are so needed here. The Catholic church has such a choke hold on the community and poor people keep having babies they can’t feed. The religious beliefs here are such a tangle between hot Latin’s idea about their right to not be monogamist and the determination to not use birth control – except abortion! WHAT A MESS.
When you have the strength please come home! You are so needed here. There is so much misinformation about homosexuality and AIDS. There are just a handful of people here who are ‘out.’ I moved to San Francisco in 1957 and worked in the advertising department of Macy*s. I think I was the only straight person there. LOL I learned a lot. I seem to recognize people who are homosexual and shocked at how most people here don’t.
As a sober person from ’71 I sponsored a lot of guy men and lesbian woman through the era when everyone was in the closet and AIDS hit us hard. I also worked at the county hospital where we treated the very first cases. We had to learn a lot very quickly as a good number of our first patients were also co-workers.
Previously promiscuous adults started changing their attitudes and SAFE SEX was the mantra.
I feel so much compassion for you and hope to reconnect – if you want my direct e-mail you may send me a private message here on this board. I just don’t want to quit talking to you but find I really have nothing more to say. GOD SPEED.
My eyes are still leaking.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Re: RiseUpToHIV: Maralyn Gill [Re: Marty] #456447
01/26/13 02:19 PM
01/26/13 02:19 PM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,672
Northern California
LaurieMar Offline
LaurieMar  Offline
I remember Maralyn from years ago.....just as a traveler who ate at Rasta Pasta several times when I did day trips to Caye Caulker.

Quite an inspirational story, especially to those that suffer from or have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease. A tear jerker as well.....

Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!
Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!
Chaa Creek is an award-winning luxury Belize Resort, rated as one of the worlds best Eco Lodges. We are a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981!
Maruba Beach Klub and Spa is the premiere Secret Beach spa and restaurant located on the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea at the center of Secret Beach, Belize
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler
First Class Accommodations for the Budget Traveler

Things to do

Daily News
Daily Weather

Classified Ads
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Today
SP Town Council
Channel 7
Channel 5
Love FM
The Reporter
TV Newscasts
Radio Stations

Click for our
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites

Event Guides
Event Calendar
Specials & Events
Things to Do
iTravel Belize
Paradise Theater
San Pedro Fun Finder
Paradise Guy Event Calendar
Cayo Event Calendar

San Pedro Scoop!
Tia Chocolate
My Beautiful Belize
I-Travel Belize
Belize Adventure
Belize Hub
Romantic Travel
Belize Happy Adventures
Conch Creative
Caribbean Culture & Lifestyle
More Blogs...
Search thousands of Belizean-only websites
White Sands Dive Shop - 5 Star PADI Dive Facility - Daily diving, SCUBA instruction and Snorkeling
Caribbean Inspired All Natural Condiments & Spice Blends, Over 100 are Gluten Free!
We manage a variety of homes, apartments, condos and commercial properties here on Ambergris Caye. Our minimum lease on ALL properties is six months.
Click for Ian Anderson's Caves Branch, Welcome to a World of Adventure
Lil Alphonse has snorkel equipment to fit anyone as well as Marine Park Tickets and flotation devices to assist those not as experienced.
Coastal Xpress offers a daily scheduled ferry run to most resorts, restaurants and private piers on the island of Anbergris Caye. We also offer  private and charter water taxi service.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30
Cayo Espanto
Click for Cayo Espanto, and have your own private island
More Links
Click for exciting and adventurous tours of Belize with Katie Valk!
ShoutChat Box
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 332 guests, and 0 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Statistics
Most Online2,982
Jan 29th, 2019 HELP! Visitor Center Goods & Services San Pedro Town Message Board Lodging Diving Fishing Things to Do History Maps Phonebook Belize Business Directory Picture of the Day

The opinions and views expressed on this board are the subjective opinions of Ambergris Caye Message Board members
and not of the Ambergris Caye Message Board its affiliates, or its employees.

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.1