When I found out I was HIV positive 14 years ago, I was very scared. I was very upset; I was depressed. I came out to my family after a couple of years, due to the fear of rejection and stigma, but when I did, I was embraced. I was loved. But I did have a few people who did reject me—but that’s only because they weren’t educated. Once I had the opportunity to educate them, they embraced me.
It has been difficult honestly trying to date, because people don’t understand. They’re not educated. So it does take me being a voice to educate them for them to accept me as a person, not just someone with HIV.
I found out about PWN-USA from another sister I know who gave me the information. PWN sounded like a wonderful organization I could be a part of that would allow me to be a voice for my community and for others abroad. Since I’ve been a member, I’ve been able to be an advocate, holding up signs, saying I’m beautiful, that I’m not defined by HIV, positive words so people know that HIV is just a thing—HIV is not me.
PWN fights for me by being that voice, by advocating, by allowing me and people living with HIV the opportunity to have a voice, to be heard, to fight stigma. We combat stigma by being a voice, by speaking out, by telling who we are. I feel PWN is very, very positive for the community. It benefits the community at large, because it gives a platform for women to speak up, to say, This is who I am, this is what I’m dealing with, and I’m a person just like you. It also gives us a platform to fight criminalization, for health care rights, just to be accepted, for equality.
I plan in the future to continue to be an advocate with PWN-USA, to stand up and be a voice for all of those women who feel like they don’t have a voice of their own.
PWN-USA is planning its second national summit for 2016 for women living with HIV to help train the next cadre of leaders to effect change. But we can’t do it without your support. We are also organizing new chapters in regions across the U.S. that have been hit hardest by the HIV epidemic to keep giving women like me a platform to speak out, fight stigma and work to repeal or modernize HIV criminalization laws based on outdated science.
Can you help? No donation is too large or too small, but every donation will move us closer to our goal, and will move hundreds of women living with HIV closer to the 2016 summit, new chapters in their regions–and true empowerment.
Please donate $10–or as much as you can afford–today and help other women living with HIV like me find their voice and become leaders.