“Overcoming Stigma: Breastfeeding with HIV” | MY EXTRAORDINARY FAMILY – Video

“Overcoming Stigma: Breastfeeding with HIV” | MY EXTRAORDINARY FAMILY – Video

Cece, a mother living with HIV, shares her story of being called “selfish” for breastfeeding her children despite her HIV status. She opens up about the difficult decision to breastfeed her daughter, Zuri, despite the potential risk of transmission. Cece’s partner, Dwayne, also shares his perspective on their relationship and the choices they’ve made as a family.

Cece is transparent about her HIV journey, from contracting the virus to managing her health with medication. She discusses the stigma and judgment she faces online, with people criticizing her for having children and breastfeeding while living with HIV. Despite the negativity, Cece has also received support and gratitude from others living with HIV and medical providers who appreciate her advocacy and openness.

As the program manager for The Well Project, a nonprofit organization supporting women and girls with HIV, Cece is passionate about spreading awareness and accurate information about the virus. She hopes to raise her children to be advocates and to use their voices to fight for what is right.

Her story is a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of individuals living with HIV, and the importance of education and understanding in combating stigma.

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Video Transcript

I’ve been called Selfish for breastfeeding while living with HIV you could try to give somebody the correct information sometimes and they still only hear what they want to you’re a horrible person for taking that risk I made a decision to breastfeed Zuri how did that make you feel hey y’all hey Mom

What I am Cece and I am a mom who is living with HIV I have a son Zan he is 12 years old and he is HIV negative I have a partner Dwayne and we’ve been dating for about six years we share a daughter and her name is zri and she’s

Also HIV negative child z z look you sit right there Mommy going to sit right here I contracted HIV when I was about 19 years old and it was from dealing with people in sexual relationships that I did not know their HIV status I was 20 when I was diagnosed

When I found out that I was HIV positive that was one of the most devastating moments of my life never thought that it would be me so what do you say to somebody that’s mad at me because I had you even though I took the medicine I

Went to the doctor I did all of that what do you say to them what I would say is don’t judge look and go through my mom’s story to actually get the full picture and see that she has actually done everything that she needed to do to make sure that me

And zor are negative I did not breastfeed Zion that was not an OP option at all how far in your relationship did CeCe disclose to you that she was looking like she disclosed me like almost right away I believe um if not the first time we met maybe the

Second time we met she just kept it real being she was honest and I respected that so that’s how I was able to handle it and make my decision on how like once we go forward good job you fed the turtles yay ha good job mommy’s so proud of you

This is my medicine it is my lifeline it has been what has allowed me to have kids who are not living with HIV is what’s kept me healthy for these last 15 years is what allows me to not be able to transmit HIV sexually to my partner I

Depend on this this medication is what makes me undetectable can you tell us about your decision to breastfeed Siri I made it the decision to breastfeed Zuri in those studies that we do have available we’ve seen that the risk of transmission when the parent is on antiretrovirals HIV

Medication that the risk is less than 1% when you breastfeed I breastfed Zuri for 7 months a hey Mom hi my baby oh love you so so when I got pregnant with Zuri this time we are talking about breastfeeding something that I never thought would be possible you know like

I didn’t even get the option with Zion now this comes on the table how did that make you feel thought it was a good deal I really did you know I know that your providers had your back and I believe what they said so I didn’t worry about

That at all and I knew that that breast milk would be the best for her well I worried enough for the both of us I worried the whole 9 months I worried every time I put my breast into her mouth I hate that you worried like that

You didn’t Express that when you were pregnant or when you were breastfeeding her I thought you were okay with it being that you were doing it in the middle of me breastfeeding Z there was a shortage of milk because there was contaminated milk floating around and I

Remember the thought of oh my goodness my breast milk is probably the safest thing I could be doing for my baby right now even while living with HIV you know it’s not sweet what it’s the way that them people act on the internet I know and I wish that I could

Change that for you because you still have so many people that don’t know that don’t have a clue of what HIV is even in 2023 yes I learn a lot from you and I think we do as a family and we thank you yeah cuz y’all love me and HIV is just a

Part of me so I’m grateful for y’all recognizing that and still continue to love me cuz then that just helped me keep going cuz y’all ain’t never treated me no different nobody ever treated me no different I’m so grateful I love you I love you too I know you

Do I decided to share my story online with others for the first time on December 1st 2018 I wanted to get it out and find somebody else I wanted to find community and in that blog healing is voluntary it’s the acronym HIV and I was tired of it meaning human immuno

Deficiency virus as a woman who is living with HIV and who is extremely open with my status and extremely proud and open with the fact that I have kids I have received a lot of negative feedback from the people online why help children knowing that HIV was going to

Pass down to them the kids didn’t stand a chance that comment was not true at all clearly on my video this video specifically I said that my kids were both HIV negative what is like the most common piece of Jud you receive that I was selfish for having children that I

Was selfish for breastfeeding one and that feels like the opposite of what I have been feeling and experiencing you’re a horrible person for taking that risk if you putting your child at risk you are selfish go ahead and educate yourself no baby should be at risk of Contracting HIV just because a selfish

Decision of a mother who clearly doesn’t understand her childish first I just got to add something Kevin I’m sorry sure go for what really confuses me about this all is that we live in a country who has threatened the sexual and reproductive Health rights of women

Period so they say you have to keep the baby but is that only if you’re not living with HIV because it seems that my decision to keep my children and to raise my children and to love my children is what gets me to most hateful negative comments so what do you want me

To do do you want me to keep the babies do you want me to love the babies or should I throw that away because of a less than 1% chance of transmission when I end up pregnant it’s the willful ignorance that really gets me you could try to give somebody the correct information

Sometimes and they still only hear what they want to I’ve received so many positive responses as as well the medical providers will tell me that they refer their newly diagnosed women to my Instagram page or I have a person thank me for doing the hard work because this

Is the hard work so the well project is a nonprofit organization it serves women and girls living with HIV across the gender spectrum and those that are vulnerable to it my role of program manager I get to attend conferences that are related to HIV and AIDS I get to go

There learn the information and bring it back to my community I get to communicate and meet so many different women from so many different walks of life and HIV being that thing that we share man I get to do my life work every day what I hope for my family is that

I’m raising two children that know how to use their voice and that take space up in the world and that fight for what they really truly believe in one thing that I would like to tell the world is that for people living with HIV that is

Just a part of our identity we have so many other facets and things going on HIV is just a small small Part

Author Video Description

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CI CI is living with HIV. First diagnosed when she was 20 years old, Ci Ci has been on medication which means her levels are now undetectable. She said: “It is my lifeline… It’s what has kept me healthy for these last 15 years.” An advocate of others living with HIV, Ci Ci has two children – who are both HIV negative – 12-year-old Zion and two-year-old Zuri. The mother-of-two said: “When I got pregnant with Zuri, this time we are talking about breastfeeding – something I never thought would be possible.” She further explained that in available studies, the risk of transmission through breastfeeding was around 1% and she had support from some doctors. Ci Ci initially shared her story to find community with other women living with HIV and decided to start a blog: ‘Healing Is Voluntary’. She said: “As a woman who is living with HIV and who is extremely open with my status and extremely proud and open with the fact I have kids, I have received a lot of negative feedback from the people online.” She has been called ‘selfish’ for having children and breastfeeding one. But she has also received a lot of positivity and continues to work hard to spread awareness, educate and learn more herself. Ci Ci said: “One thing that I would like to tell the world is that for people living with HIV, it is just a part of our identity.”

Follow Ci Ci here:



Videographer:Kevin Huang
Producers: Kim Nguyen, Georgia Embling and Emika Berry
Editor: Shiona Penrake

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Video “Called ‘Selfish’ For Breastfeeding With HIV | MY EXTRAORDINARY FAMILY” was uploaded on 01/01/2024 to Youtube Channel truly