Felicia

Early on in life, I realized that I had tendencies towards women but in the 1960’s it wasn’t acceptable to come out as a lesbian. So I got married to a man at 17 and quickly had a baby. He wasn’t a good man and the marriage became abusive. I loved my child deeply but the abuse made me turn to alcohol first and before I knew it, I was a full blown junkie. I escaped the marriage after six years but was already so deep into my addiction by that point.

Over the next 20 years, I battled my addiction, turned to prostitution, and experienced homelessness. I wound up going to jail during this time but it was there that I began to have a relationship with God and started attending AA meetings. Since being locked up, I haven’t used drugs or alcohol and I now have eight and a half years clean.

Because of my addiction and promiscuous behavior, I ended up contracting HIV and was diagnosed in 2006. I had already come to terms with my sexual orientation and was married to the love of my life. She accepted my diagnosis and I lived and breathed for her. She was my lover, my confidant and my best friend. She took ill and for the first time in my life, I had to take care of someone else instead of someone taking care of me. When she passed away, I felt like my life was over. That’s when I found Philadelphia FIGHT.


When I first came to FIGHT and Project TEACH I was a broken woman. TEACH taught me how to take control of my life while learning how to maintain my health with HIV. I then started volunteering at FIGHT and found a lot of empowerment because of it. I was taking on new tasks successfully and challenging myself in a positive way. Now, I am a peer educator and I get to teach other people about HIV. I talk to people about the importance of medication adherence, prevention methods, and fighting HIV stigma. I am also a proud graduate of FIGHT’s TREE IOP program which has helped me maintain my recovery.

FIGHT has given me a home and a purpose. Today, I feel beautiful and I thank God for what I have every day. I used to live in the dark but today, I have found the light.

Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring fellows, residents and students.

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Dr. Karam Mounzer

Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who joins Philadelphia FIGHT as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He completed his undergraduate training in Biology and Psychology from Union College, his medical school training at Albany Medical College, his residency training at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, and his Chief Residency at the Albert Einstein Medical Center


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