The Lantra-L Members Gallery

Cristina Mendia (in memoriam)

Cristina, a Lantran and AIDS activist, left us on July 12, 2001.
A sample of her personality can be seen in an e-mail she wrote to Billy O'Shea, a fellow Lantran:

Don't worry about me, things could be much worse. I have been positive for nearly ten years and one adapts to everything. The human spirit and its resilience are amazing.

Most of my friends tend to forget that I am poz unless they see me getting ill or do yet another TV programme or newspaper interview to fight discrimination...funnily enough, I never encountered any, personally. I feel privileged that I lived with this illness when it was a killer. Being given a death sentence made me wake up to the fact that I wanted to live as well as I could and in order to face my mortality I went through the incredibly life enhancing process of resolving all the unresolved issues I had. I am now in peace with myself, my past, my history - and guess what? The joke was on me! There are treatments now and I am looking at a normal life span...

I hardly ever get ill but when I do I have a problem with acceptance of the limitations ill health imposes. I am therefore glad I am on the mend!

I have no special needs because of this illness. Just find laughter and friendship great healers;-)


I danced with the devil, Billy, and came back to tell the story. It wasn't only HIV that made me face my dark side (incredibly destructive but that I cherish) but it gave me a push in the butt:-)

We are ordinary people living extraordinary lives, all of us. Don't put me on a pedestal, please, whatever you do. If it had happened to you, you would have coped too. Maybe you would have done the same as me and fought the prejudice and the shame surrounding this illness by going public about it.

Thanks for the support. I don't advertise in Lantra about my illness but the people I get in touch with on a more personal level all know. [...]
Another response from Cristina, shared by a Lantran:

Well done, Stefano...I like the layout of the page, its simplicity and how easy it is to navigate (well, most of the subpages still need a bit of work done on them...LOL). I also like the way you introduce the need you and many others feel of a forum for straight HIV+ people. You did it in a conciliatory manner, including everyone, rather than feeding on resentment and anger. For that, you have my respect. Keep me posted on how the site develops...I will come and see for myself once in a while... However, as you well know, I personally do not feel the need or desire for such a forum. I feel this virus doesn't look at colour gender, sexuality or anything else. It just hits everyone who is at the wrong place at the wrong time... I got so much support from the gay community that it doesn't cross my mind to need an exclusively hetero space...unless, of course, I am looking for a boyfriend:-) As far as I am concerned, we are all equal and I make no distinctions based on people's sexual preferences...I feel there is enough done to separate us by the world out there and that the AIDS community has achieved something very very special by coming together in the early days when people were dying by the minute and there was no time to concentrate on differences, whatever they may be... Being completely out re my status, I do not share a lot of the problems a lot of women face in living in secrecy and shame with this virus. On the other hand, I share with them a series of issues related to being a single parent. However, I have found that although women can identify, men (whatever their sexuality) can empathize and support me too... I am sorry if this was a long message. I just felt I needed to make this statement out of loyalty towards those that have seen me through good and bad in these past seven and a half years, and out of loyalty to the memory of all my gay friends that this illness killed in the prime of their lives. Are you considering links to other organisations that cater for everyone infected (such as London lighthouse) or for women and children only (like Positively Women)? What about links further afield, in Europe, the U.S.A. and even Africa and other areas where heterosexual infection constitutes the majority? I wish you all the luck on this project of yours...Once again, congratulations...keep up the good work

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