A mom of two who believes her boyfriend risked his life to start a family is speaking out about the disease to break the stigma surrounding it.
Sasha Goodman, 30, from Milton Keynes in the UK was diagnosed with HIV when she was five after she was unable to overcome a bout of chicken pox.
After doctors carried out a blood test they discovered Sasha had contracted HIV from her mother, Sharon, in the womb.
Sharon had caught the disease from having unprotected sex.
"My mom was diagnosed after I was, as doctors knew I must've caught it before being born due to my young age.”
Sasha was forced to leave school due to bullies and following the death of her mom due to an Aids-related illness, her life began to spiral out of control.
"I had a tough childhood and was raised by my grandparents who’ve since died.”
But after meeting partner Jay Hart, 32, seven years ago, Sasha was surprised when he wasn't fazed by her HIV status, and the pair have since had a child.
Sasha – who already had one child before meeting Jay – has chosen not to identify her kids but said her entire family are HIV-negative as she’s not passed the disease on to Jay or her children.
The full-time mom and HIV activist said: "People can’t believe it when I tell them I was born with the disease as they, due to the stigma around HIV [positive] people, assume you've caught it through unprotected sex.
“When I was a teenager I told one friend I had HIV, who then told my whole school, so I had no choice but to leave without taking my exams.
“During my teens I was always emotional and feared I was going to die from the infection.
“I didn’t take my medication. It was just a constant reminder I had HIV, but after losing my mom to Aids it pushed me to be an HIV advocate.
“I never thought I’d ever be a mom. I was petrified to have a boyfriend as I didn’t want to infect anyone.
“When I met Jay seven years ago I did already have my eldest son who I knew didn't have HIV.
"I fell completely head over heels in love with Jay but I was scared he might reject me once he found out.
“He handled it so well, and even helped me accept that I had HIV.”
HIV is treated with antiretroviral medications, which works by stopping the virus replicating in the body. This allows the immune system to repair itself and prevent further damage.
The medication reduces the amount of HIV in the blood which means that although there’s still risk, it’s small.
"I now have two children, who are 12 and five, and we couldn't be happier."
The UK’s National Aids Trust says 97% of people living with HIV in the United Kingdom who are on treatment are virally suppressed – meaning they can’t pass the virus on.
However, HIV is known to attack the immune system and those who contract the disease are more likely to be severely affected by common illnesses such as the flu.
“The best thing I ever did was get support and I’m now lucky to help other people who are suffering in silence while refusing to take their medication.
“It’s a form of slow suicide because they’re so scared of other people finding out, but actually HIV is very manageable. There’s no reason for anyone with it not to lead a normal life.”