Rae Lewis-Thornton: “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Death!”

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Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy award winning AIDS Activist, Reverend, blogger, author, and speaker who has been living with HIV for nearly 35 years and AIDS for over 20. Now, she goes literally around the world speaking about life with HIV & AIDS as well as creating signature, one-of-a-kind accessories on her website, RLTcollection.com

If you were to ask her back when she was first diagnosed if she’d be here still living in 2016, she’d probably tell you flat out, No. But Rae is here for a purpose and explains what she came to realize about her life in her own words below.


I thought that I had lost my mind when I opened the window at 4:00 A. M. and stuck my head out of the window to cool off on Friday. But when I felt the impulse to raise my t-shirt in front of the window this morning so the heat and sweat that was under my breast could cool down, I knew that this was out of control.

I had been fighting the truth of this for three months now. I just couldn’t come to terms with it.  I had been on a medication that caused me to have hot flashes for 6 months so I made myself believe that this was a residual from that medication even though I’ve been off of it for three months now. But when I pulled my shirt, yes you heard me right, when I pulled my shirt down and moved from the window, I picked up my iphone and called the doctor.

MENOPAUSE! Are you kidding me? Yep MENOPAUSE! WOW! I didn’t think that I would live long enough to see menopause.  #For Real When I made a transition to AIDS the life expectancy was three years and at one point I was sick enough to die. And the truth of the matter is AIDS has a mind of it’s own, you never know how it’s going to hit you or when, but make no mistake it will hit.

I remember when I first started speaking I would go to high schools and ask the freshman to stand, and I’d say, “By the time you graduate I’ll be dead.” And according to everything we knew about AIDS, I should have died.

Yes, I had a great doctor and I did everything that was expected of me, but honestly HIV/AIDS treatment didn’t take a turn for the better until the mid-nineties and by that time I had been infected for over 10 years.