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She’s traveled the world. She’s run her own business for over 30 years. She’s spoken to thousands about understanding HIV/AIDS.

Winter has traveled the world over addressing HIV/AIDS issue with thousands of people, using her personal experience with the disease.

Kathi Winter has been industrious and by many standards successful throughout the course of her lifetime. She’s also HIV positive.

Her personal experience gives her a reliable ground for talking to people about the issues surrounding HIV. She is a face of the disease, and she said her experience helps to humanize those who might otherwise suffer from a negative stigma.

“I think it adds a different dimension to [being infected with HIV]. It’s not so pathetic: in other words, people can live with it. People can survive,” Winter said. “It helps to be a testimony to what God can do and to success. You don’t have to just crawl in a hole and die.”

Winter spoke to the Lee community twice on Thursday, Sept. 27 — first at Dixon Center Chapel and then again that night to students in the Science and Math Complex. Winter addressed the stigmas and misconceptions related to HIV/AIDS, sharing her passion to see the church tackle the issue head-on.

“If there’s no fear, why would there be stigma?” Winter asked her audience that night. She seeks to resolve the issue and promote a better understanding all around of people who are infected.

Among the issues she addressed was the lack of understanding people have about how HIV is contracted, the difference between HIV and AIDS and the importance of testing. She also addressed how Christians need to respond to HIV/AIDS victims.

Winter shared the personal story of how she became infected from her now ex-fiance, who had lived with HIV for years before meeting her yet never revealed it. After finding out, she was isolated from friends and family. HIV has cost Winters thousands upon thousands of dollars in medication over the years as well, and she’s had to deal with the side effects of the drugs.
Yet Winter didn’t let that stop her from working hard. In addition to owning her own business, Winter is a board member of He Intends Victory and helped to found Outreach to Africa, but she doesn’t let it all go to her head.

“It’s really about the Lord for me. … It’s really about the fact that I have the joy of the Lord in my heart. And that gets me through,” Winter said.