Defying Death

Magazine article Ebony. Growing up in suburban Chicago and intent on turning her life into a success story, Rae Lewis-Thornton was a self-described “all-American Black girl. Against stacked odds, she went to college and graduated magna cum laude before beginning a promising career as a political organizer. She dressed and carried herself like a fashion model and cultivated her sophisticated Black beauty. At 23, she was intelligent, self-reliant, and attractive –the type of woman men stand in line to meet. Eager to embrace life and anxious to overcome its challenges, Rae was determined that someday she was going to be somebody. And then suddenly, 9 years ago, Rae was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and all her optimistic hopes and poetic dreams of a bright future began crumbling at her feet. Despite the specter of death hanging over her and thanks to a formidable will to live, the sun has not stopped shining in Rae’s life.

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Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist. She rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with HIV/AIDS in a.

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That might sound like a strange thing to say. But with Thursday, Feb. I always say the most important thing to know is that HIV is a preventable disease and the ball is in your court.

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist and the first about sex, dating, self-love and being true to one’s self, but I kept procrastinating.

AIDS activist. On her visits to college campuses, several years after her life-threatening bouts with Pneumocystis pneumonia, she would run into students who had heard her speak when they were in high school. She was born prematurely in Chicago to two drug-addicted parents in When she was an infant, her paternal grandfather took her from her parents and raised her. By the time she was three, her father had been killed.

She had no contact with her birth mother until she was Lewis-Thornton began her schooling in Chicago at Beethoven and Earle schools, but transferred to Chute Middle School when her grandfather and his wife moved to Evanston, Illinois. In high school, her living circumstances changed again.

Rae Lewis-Thornton

All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy. Rae Lewis-Thorton Cynthia Lynn. Twenty-two years ago, Rae Lewis-Thornton debuted as a face of AIDS in black America on the cover of Essence magazine—showing that an attractive, drug-free, educated young woman could still be vulnerable to an expanding and increasingly complicated epidemic.

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Photo by George E. But many people were not acting like it and that troubled Rae Lewis-Thornton, then 24 years old. I just threw it on the counter, went about my evening and at some point before the night was over, I went through the mail and opened the letter. Would you please call. Lewis-Thornton did call but got only a recording. She called again from work the next morning and was urged to come into the Red Cross office. You only have HIV. You may never get AIDS.

I only have HIV. I can handle this. Just as she had a sense of urgency to respond to the train crash in Maryland, Lewis-Thornton felt a greater urgency to inform the man she was dating at the time, a minister attending graduate school at American University in Washington. She had washed his clothes and they had agreed that he would stop by her apartment that night to pick them up.

I’ve Had HIV for Over 30 Years. Here’s What I Know About Prevention

Art by Francois Henri Galland. I started thinking about this after I received an email last night from a woman with herpes who is afraid to date. When I was first diagnosed with herpes, I was afraid. I remember trying to get an ex-boyfriend to have sex with me and he flat out turned me down.

Rae Lewis-Thornton sitting anchor for CBS Chicago on news reports on her life living with HIV/AIDS #divalivingwithaids #hiv #aids.

NNPA — During the of summer of , Rae Lewis-Thornton, barely 30 years old and at the height of a promising career as a political organizer, decided it was time to tell her closest friends and loved ones that she was dying. At the very top of that list were former presidential can-didate and civil rights icon Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jac-queline.

Tell-ing the Jacksons would be more painful than telling the step-grandmother who had reared her. Jackson had hired her as an intern before his first presi-dential bid in She would quickly move up the ranks, be-coming his national youth di-rector during his second pre-sidential bid in But for Lewis-Thornton, a young wo-man who grew up abused in a broken home, Jackson was a positive father figure in her life.

She became like a family member and at one point, she even lived in one of the family homes. And the sharp-eyed Jackson could sense it. You pregnant? She rushed to explain how she would rip labels off of prescription bottles and flush them down the toilet to keep others from learning of her dis-ease. She talked about her sud-den fatigue as her immune sys-tem began crashing.


I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I found my love and so did he! With that first kiss I knew the Right Reverend was working with something. He flew from Yogjakarta and reached Malaysia on March 1st. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado.

Lewis-Thornton had to rethink her own dating life after her diagnosis. At the time of her Essence cover she was a newlywed, but as her health.

Do I still have sex is one of my most often asked questions. From the halls of Stanford University to the schools of inner city Chicago, people are curious about sex and dating for those living with HIV. Anyhoo, my answer is yes; Yes I still have sex. Let me be clear, underlined in all of these questions is stigma and fear prompted by lack of understanding and honest acceptance of the facts around HIV.

I mean come on, how many times have you heard that a condom will prevent a person from contracting HIV? But still people ask the question as if sex for those living with HIV is out of the question. Somehow we have stayed stuck in the earliest information and images of people living with HIV. With stigma hanging over HIV like thick fog, people are afraid to open themselves up to the most relevant of information about HIV.

Who actually sits and reads an article on HIV without the fear of being judged? Stigma also creates fear of disclosure for those living with HIV. Stigma on all levels is wrapped tightly around the fear of rejection and judgment. I get it. Continue Reading. Work through relationship don’ts, learn about you, and become your best self with this relationship ebook.

Rae-Lewis Thornton Shares Her Perspective on HIV/AIDS at The University of Texas

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