My sister and I recently attended a volunteer training session with a local AIDS Service Organization (ASO). To be honest, before I became positive, I had no idea what an ASO even was! The training was interesting and allowed me to see some of the service areas that the ASO provides in the community. They not only help those infected with HIV/AIDS, but also reach out to the community as a whole. They do so much more than I expected, including a political portion to maintain active within the political aspect of things; a religious portion to reach out to local churches for help and acceptance; an event portion which helps plan events and fundraisers; an outreach portion to educate the community and also a client focused portion, which helps those directly infected/affected with HIV/AIDS.
The training session was particularly uplifting to me to see the amount of people who were learning to be volunteers. There were probably 15-20 people, which I think is awesome (especially considering it was a Thursday evening for 3 hours)!
I must admit, though, as we went around the room introducing ourselves and stating “why” we were there, I froze. I heard several people say that they were there for Peace Corps training, several people with other local organizations, and even several people who were HIV positive and wanted to give back. Obviously that is precisely the reason I was there, yet I couldn’t say that. I simply could not say that I was HIV positive and wanted to help other women infected/affected by this disease. I felt hot, sweaty and my nerves were getting the best of me. All I could say was that I hoped to give back to women, who didn’t seem to have an equal voice in the HIV community.
I felt like this was an opportunity (a fairly safe opportunity at that) to admit my status. Yet, I disappointed myself and could not mention my status. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t disclose to a room full of people who were obviously there to support people with HIV. But I did not….and I need to work on this. Hopefully, as I become more involved with the ASO, I will become more comfortable with disclosure.