After rapid, unexplained weight loss, dismaying episodes of falling and myriad tests, Laura Cottrell was diagnosed with HIV. “You have AIDS, and you probably only have six months to live,” her doctor told her. Laura was devastated.
“Then he handed me a card for Christiana Care’s HIV clinic and sent me on my way,” she said.
Feeling hopeless, Laura contacted Ruth Rollins, assistant to the director of Christiana Care’s HIV program.
“Ruth told me they were going to help me get better. And, slowly they did!” Laura said. Now, she is back to a healthy weight, is strong, looks well and works a 40-hour week with ease.
Laura says the HIV program gave her more than her physical health.
“They have given me back an emotional and spiritual life, because these people really care,” she said. Laura now works as a full-time peer educator with the Delaware HIV Consortium and is an essential part of the HIV Program. She talks from experience about the rejection suffered by those with HIV/AIDS, the challenges of continuing to work while adjusting to sometimes body-wracking AIDS drugs, and how to have an honest sex life.
“I’m here to help in whatever way I can,” she said. “From educating patients to helping them talk to the doctor, to giving them a hug-whatever they need, I’m here.”