Mar 10, 2013 8:03 PM by Erika Flores

Local women discuss living with HIV

TUCSON-It's a disease that affects more than a million people in the U.S., and one of one of those living with the disease are women.

Sunday, as part of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Day, local women spoke out about their disease and celebrating the odds.

As Julie Tomison gets pampered for this year's "Survivor Soiree," she talks about what it's like to live with HIV.

"At least days like this I get a day of beauty treatments that help me feel better," said Tomison. "At one point I was taking up to 50 pills a day. It's really hard on your body."

She said she's been struggling with the disease for over 20 years.

"No one is safe as far as this disease goes," she said.

She said she was married for 16 years, and most of that time, she didn't know her husband had HIV and had infected her.

"He didn't disclose or let me know or anything like that," said Tomison.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 15 percent of women who have the disease aren't even aware.

Barbara Lock said she was also infected while married.

"We lived in the same house, and I never saw a pill. I had no idea at all," said Lock.

Lock said she's living proof that anyone at any age or of any ethnicity can get the disease.

"I didn't fit any of the risk categories. I was old. I was 56, white. I was in a heterosexual relationship," said Lock.

HIV can also be transmitted through blood and breast milk.

Prevention tips include not sharing needles, using protection during sex and getting yourself and partner tested.

"You can't just take someone's word for it. I don't care if you're in love or whatever. It's your life," said Tomison.

The women will attend a "Survivor Soiree" at 8 p.m. Sunday at Fluxx Studio and Gallery on East 9th street.

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