Washington D.C. last week was amazing. I showed up to the Bed & Breakfast we were staying at not knowing who anyone was. I seriously thought I was the only blogger there. At that point I still didn’t know what someone with HIV looked like. On the way to dinner I leaned over to the person sitting next to me and whispered “how many bloggers are there going to be?” It wasn’t until that night, before I went to bed, I reread everyone’s blogs. I put names with faces. I confessed this at breakfast the next morning. I really felt silly.
The first time working in the A Girl Like Me (AGLM) Booth, I FELT LIBERATED!!! It was okay to talk to people that visited the booth openly about my HIV status. This is CRAZY, I can’t do that!?!… Yes, Yes I can, I was thousands of miles away from my home and I did not have to fear running into anyone I might know. I will never forget my experience.
I had the opportunity to meet people that were just like me. We are living our lives; we have jobs, bills, children, grand-children, the only exception is we are living with HIV.
Attending the symposiums, strolling around the global village, viewing the movie “How to Survive a Plague”, attending a Washington Nationals game, meeting some amazing women...and not one time did I have to hide my HIV status. I learned; not all of us can be the face of Activism, but we can be the voice. We can educate the ignorant. We don’t have to settle for discrimination. We can help those who don’t think they can do it on their own.
Today I went to my local AIDS service organization. I signed up to volunteer in the free clinic. I am going to try to make a difference to others in my community.
Thank You for the opportunity to represent A Girl Like Me at the International AIDS Conference 2012, I will be forever grateful.