On July 22, 2012, “Keep the Promise” was a major event in Washington DC, which brought people from all over the world to focus attention on the HIV epidemic. Several Members of “Let’s Talk About It” attended. What follows is one member’s reflections about the event and about living with HIV.
Why did you attend the 2012 “Keep the Promise” event in Washington DC?
I wanted to participate in the walk and to meet people. I had never been to DC or to an event like this before. It was just fun being around so many people, even though everyone there had the same condition, everyone was positive and happy. I got to meet many people who talked about being HIV positive and taking their medications.
What was most inspiring about the event?
The speakers were very important to listen to and to talk with. It was just very nice. Everyone was so friendly. The speakers were inspiring. People like Tavis Smiley and Cornel West support everybody and care about everybody with our condition and how it affects people. They talked about how, at least now [different than in the past] we have medications to take. They talked about how we can protect ourselves so HIV won’t spread and how HIV is not a death sentence anymore. They talked about the stigma behind HIV and how it is so bad: people are afraid to tell their families. There is fear that their families would disown them. I was right up at the edge of the stage.
What advocacy work needs to happen in North Central Florida?
What we need is to speak at high schools, even seventh and eighth grade students need to be told. I wish I could talk to students and tell them to stop partying, stop smoking cigarettes and to get an education. Some think “Well I’ll just take medication if I get HIV.” They are not thinking about what this disease is like. The medications are tiring, there are a lot of side-effects and that affects me in a lot of ways. I’m thankful that I can take medication. There are some people that have the virus and can’t afford the meds. Again, I’m blessed and I’m alive. So, God is good. That’s how I feel about things.
Have you been part of any advocacy events related to HIV? Share with us about your experience in the comments below!
*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “Let’s talk About It Magazine.”