Paying it forward has become a way of life for me. It is ironic that being living with HIV has opened so many doors for me, meaning I do not think I would have had the opportunity to meet all the awesome people in my life that I have.
It started with my psychologist. When I first found out I was infected with the big V, as I call it, boy, did I give her a run for the money, to say the least! So my point is I received years of psychotherapy just to deal with the fact that I was living with HIV. Being in therapy though, opened up a whole new world for me. I learned so much- from coping with the hand I was dealt to learning who I was as a person. Not by any means was all this an easy task. Therapy is hard work -I kid you not. You have to be able to look at difficult issues in your life. Had I not been infected with the big V, I probably would never have had the chance to be in counseling.
So that opened the door for me to be more open-to meet other great people in my life. I decided I wanted to leave New York. I wanted a slower pace of life, so I moved to Florida. My ID Doc at the time helped me so much. She made the phone calls for me where I was going to get my health care. That led me to a nurse who was at the health department in Gainesville. She helped me so much. Before I knew it doors were opening up everywhere for me. It was then that I started to want to pay it forward, for others who were where I started.
Since then it was like a domino effect- I felt so blessed, it made me want to continue to do more and more for other women living with HIV, because I knew first hand what they were going through. I must say the big V was my learning tool. And, it has made me the woman I am today. Ironic but true, living with the big V made me not dare to take anything for granted again in my life. It was like a whole new world was out there waiting for me. Who knew I would be still here today, so eager to make a difference in this life. This is some of what paying it forward means to me.
How have you paid it forward? Have any good suggestions? Share them with us!!
The US Government just released the following infographic which looks at the top 5 changes concerning HIV/AIDS, since 2010.
Also, today was the release of the complete National HIV/AIDS Strategy which looks at the next five years and what they hope is accomplished. The Strategy states that it is designed to “work closer to virtually eliminating new HIV infections, effectively supporting all people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives and eliminating the disparities that persist among some populations.”
You can download the Strategy at: http://1.usa.gov/1SkAseK
What are your thoughts about the infographic?
Are there other items you would like to see addressed?
“To live with HIV is to live 2 lives. You are living a life of normality, but yet there is a part of it that is unreal. The unreal part is the one where HIV reigns supreme. It is the part that knows the pain, heartache, and strength it takes to go through something like that, but it is also the part that better understands tolerance and acceptance. It is the part that knows what unconditional love is, and it is also, more importantly, the part that makes you the person you are today. How many people can say that they get to live two lives,with each one being an integral part of that person’s spirit. We might have HIV, but we are stronger and better because of it.” These inspiring words are from a Let’s Talk About It Certified Peer Advocate. She understands that knowing your status is a way to care for yourself.
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day.Let’s Talk About It Peer Advocates work to end the stigma around HIV and offer support and resources to those women who are living with HIV or female caregivers. If you or a woman you know is living with HIV, we are here to help. firstname.lastname@example.orgSo get tested!
Yesterday April 10th marked an important awareness day on our fight against HIV/AIDS. This disease can affect anyone, even young people and it is important to continue fighting against the stigma and obstacles that people living with HIV/AIDS face on a day to day basis. This day is dedicated to the millions of young people who one way or another have become infected with the virus.
In the US today, almost 40% of new HIV infections are diagnosed in young people ages 13-29. This staggering number is a good reminder that we must continue to create awareness and encourage prevention as well as testing especially among our newer generations. It is important to include young people in the conversation about HIV/AIDS and to see them as leaders and strong allies who can inspire their peers to get tested and learn ways to protect themselves from this disease.
If you would like to know more about this awareness day and how HIV/AIDS is affecting millions of young people around the world, you can visit the following websites where you will find useful statistics as well as resources and ideas to take action today!
I have been journaling everyday for the last 2 years. It has been one of the freeing experiences in my life because it actually allows me to slow down to think about what is truly happening around me, as well as what my part is in it.
Here are 6 ways that journaling will change your life.
How do you feel? Journaling can help you get what you truly feel inside out of the way. This helps when we are caught in the “retrace of life”, when we tend to disregard our feelings and keep ourselves busy and jaded.
Point of view:Journaling can give us a better understanding of our own point of view, as well as, what others think of our situation. It’s taught me that it’s not about what others think, when we journal, it is about OUR point of view.
A life worth living:I like to think that of journaling as “my life’s story.” That alone makes it Fun, Enjoyable, and Inspiring to write a little about myself and what’s going on with me, everyday of my life. After journaling continuously for sometime and looking back on the things that I have written, I realize that life is much more interesting and deeper than I thought. It’s a Great way to discover that my life is truly worth living.
Hi, my name is…: Do you know yourself without thinking too hard about it? Chances are you are only who you think you are. This was true for me before I started writing for myself everyday. I thought I knew what I liked or disliked, who I was, where I was going in life and memories of where I have been. In reality, these aspects of myself were only what I thought I should be, not actually who I was. Journaling helped me to uncover my dreams, goals, and boundaries.
A cooler person: The idea of being able to write for your life and passing it along to someone else, such as, children, grandchildren, or friends, without being ashamed. This allows others to feel more connected to you, and lets them learn that you are only human, that you live life, and that you have feelings too.
Build your serenity:Getting back to number 1, when you start to write about your feelings and how situations in your life changes your feelings, you can gain the ability to start to process those feelings, rather than leaving them bottled up inside, put them on paper so you can get them out of your heart and mind. This is so you can process and try to understand them more, which will bring you to a serene existence and helps you to notice your feelings like anger, jealousy, resentment, even joy and happiness. This is what helps me feel better.
You can write about anything, the sky is the limit. It’s a good way to cope and help yourself.
Have you tried journaling? For more ideas check out the newest Let’s Talk About It magazine, Put Yourself First http://rwhp.org/letstalk.html
When being an advocate, determination is a major factor in what drives our passion and cause. Being determined to fight and voice our opinions is how we have achieved so much progress in our fight against HIV/AIDS and how we will continue to do so.
The “D” in Advocacy is for “Determination”
Determination can take many shapes and forms, but one of the easiest ways to showcase our determination is by attending rallies, demonstrations, or events where we can actively advocate for HIV/AIDS and share our passion and our voice.
An example of this, for those living in Florida, is the 27th annual AIDS WALK MIAMI event, which is a 5k walk-a-thon fundraiser benefiting those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS in our South Florida communities. This event will be held on Sunday April 26th, 2015 in Miami Florida.
Rallies and demonstrations like the one listed above are always being organized throughout the US. If they aren’t happening in your communities, we as advocates can take the first step and organize such rallies and demonstrations and share our determination and passion with those around us.
The following link is a calendar of events being held across the US that we can all get involved in and support.
During the upcoming months, LTAI members will be exploring their role in advocacy. Join us each week as we look at different elements of advocacy.
Advocacy requires action and engagement to truly advocate in support of a cause. Taking action such as, writing letters and making calls and being active in our communities, organizations, and within our social groups is the first and probably most important step in becoming an advocate for HIV/AIDS.
The “A” in Advocacy stands for “Action”
One easy way to take action in your community is by volunteering or getting involved in HIV/AIDS service organizations. These could be with small community groups or large national organizations, but either way you can make a difference.
The following are links to directories where you can look for HIV/AIDS service organizations around your area, so that you can take action today!
February 7th, 2015 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. LTAI believes in the importance of recognizing all of our communities who are affected by HIV/AIDS.
Blacks/African Americans have disproportionately accounted for a greater percentage of people living with HIV. The observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day provides us with an opportunity to promote testing and encourage discussion about this epidemic in black communities.
According to the CDC, it is estimated that there are currently 74,000 Blacks with undiagnosed HIV in the US. Every day is a new opportunity to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment across the nation.
Share your thoughts and comments with us below and how you might take the initiative to promote HIV education and testing in your community during this month!
Angela Pretto, of the Rural Women’s Health Project’s Let’s Talk About it, was recently published in the Huffington Post. Angela states “We need to take a stand to stop the stigma of HIV. We must fight for what we believe is truth.”