My passion is to educate people about HIV and to encourage women to use their voice– not just other peers or the public, but doctors as well. For 30 years, AIDS has been taking a global toll and nearly half of those infected with HIV in the world are women (2007, womenshealth.gov). Stigma and discrimination still exist and we still need more education and awareness, both in the United States and internationally, in order to change these attitudes.
What I feel like most people do not understand is that HIV is a problem for all of us; the epidemic affects us all in one way or another. Either we know someone who has the illness, or know someone, who knows someone, living with HIV. NEWSFLASH: HIV/AIDS does not discriminate against anyone-whether you are rich, poor, old, young, black or white. It is a disease that no one should bear alone!
As a positive woman, I want to encourage you to understand that knowledge is power! One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t have to have a college education to be a powerful woman. We have so much knowledge to share with others about HIV and living with HIV. You just need to use your voice!
My challenge for you today is to “pay it forward” with education— that as you learn more, teach other people. “Pay it forward” by talking to people in your life- your friends, family, neighbors or those in your faith community. Take a stand and use your voice to share your information about HIV. Remember, you don’t have to tell people that you are positive in order to engage them in a discussion on HIV. Share whatever you are most comfortable with. But, I challenge you to use your voice, because we must be a voice for the voiceless.