“I was preparing to get married. Money was tight so I decided to give blood to earn a little extra cash. It was the day before my wedding when I went to the plasma center and heard the words that forever changed my life, ‘You are HIV positive.’ I was immediately devastated. I suddenly felt damaged. Like I was toxic. I didn’t want anyone to be near me or touch me.

I Googled ‘HIV Nashville’, found Nashville CARES and immediately drove there.  When I arrived I was sobbing uncontrolably.  But I was welcomed with open arms and they showed me my worth.  Soon I started the counseling program and they helped me to begin loving myself.  Maybe for the first time. And now thanks to CARES, I’m not a hot mess anymore!“ [Candis is eager to share her story but is not ready for her face to be known]