Positive since 2010
No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to hear about it. And many who live with it, do so in secret. Not wanting to be judged and ‘side eyed,’ the stigma of HIV and AIDS is worse now than ever before.
In the minority homosexual community, people will speculate your status if you gain or lose weight. If you are seen with someone else who is believe to be HIV positive, or if someone spreads a rumor about your status.
On the other hand, the majority of the straight community simply believes HIV is a gay disease. Sounds like a disgusting cycle of discrimination and stigma passed from generation to generation. This creates an environment where those living with HIV can’t live openly about their status.
After finding out I was positive, I decided to try and make a difference. I chose to start my own non-profit with HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and women’s health issues at its core. After trying to make important connections with some veterans fighting against HIV and its stigma, I quickly realized that many have lost their hope and faith of change. They simply don’t believe anything can be done to change stigma and prevent the spread of HIV.
What we need now is a new generation of new leaders in the fight against HIV and the stigma associated with it. We are in need of leaders that are not drained of hope and who have seen more defeats than victories.
We are in an era of this disease where our young people need to take on the battle because we are the most affected. If we can create an environment that promotes and helps those living with HIV build healthier and more productive lives, this will create the self-esteem needed to encourage those living with HIV to be more open about their status. It will spark many to get treatment and to help educate others they come in contact with.
We need to create an atmosphere where HIV/AIDS is a part of life. We need to educate young people who are about to start having sex and those at high risk on how to protect themselves against all STIs. Only then can we end stigma and prevent the spread of HIV.
What three adjectives best describe you?
Active, passionate, creative
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement to date is starting my non-profit which raises awareness of HIV.
What is your greatest regret?
I actually do not have any regrets. I feel that everything happens for a reason. Even though I’m positive and some may think that could be a regret. If it wasn’t for my status I wouldn’t be here helping others.
What keeps you up at night?
Honestly the only thing that sometimes keeps me up at night is thinking of new ideas to make the world a better place.
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about living with HIV, it would be having other HIV-positive people who care about their life and others as much as I do.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Since I didn’t grow up as rich as I could have, once I moved away and start doing better for myself, my dad told me to not look back and keep doing whatever I had been doing. So I pray constantly everyday.
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Todd Reese, the regional director of AHF. I admire him because he quickly took me under his wing when I decided to join the fight.
What drives you to do what you do?
Wanting to make the world a better place
What is your motto?
You can do anything you put your mind to, if you decide to be fearless and do it.
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
Hmm. Probably my laptop
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
Probably an eagle just so I can soar high