I am very grateful for the Building HOPE program of The Well Project. Since working together, we not only presented at this Summit (in Myrtle Beach South Carolina) last month, we could join efforts between The Well Project, Positively Trans National Board, and my organization, Arianna's Center. Together, we were able to bring 12 women of Transgender experience to the Summit in South Florida. On an amazing trip (okay, it included a speeding ticket from one of our assigned drivers, ha, ha, ha) we had an unforgettable experience in which we were able to empower such a vulnerable community, like young trans women from South Florida. The women not only learned, enjoyed, rested but also participated. In the program they attended, the second Trans Leadership Institute where we offered workshops for women with trans experiences. Affected or living with HIV, they begin to take charge in the matter. South Florida has the first and second rankings in new infections throughout the US, and the lack of sensitivity of many local providers makes our community not taken into account. These summits not only empower us, they provide us with resources for us to form our own destiny in this field of HIV as well as in prevention, retention, and adherence. Many of us were delighted with U = U and the presentation that is causing a sensation, presented by The Well Project and Arianna's Center, "HIV Among Trans Women and Barriers to Care". We were also invited to present this presentation at the PrEP Summit at Florida International University and next at "HIV is Not a Crime" (HINAC). I am very happy with the results and very pleased with the ability (with the support of The Well Project and Positively Trans) to help other girls like me, locals from my area, here I share some comments from them. A sincere thank you all, for helping me and working together to help eradicate HIV.
In this blog some participants expressed their experiences. I hope you like it.
"What I liked most about the summit was that it was a large group of women of trans experience sharing the same space with women. I learned that stigma is a big problem in our society and that is what I like about groups, which shows us a different way and meaning of how to emerge and overcome stigma. Learning from others and their mistakes helps others make better decisions about their health and lifestyles. I love having acquired so much knowledge about HIV and the strategies we can learn and put it into practice. Thank you very much for making me participate in information and experiences so important that a doctor would not give me."
- Natalia P. (the ticket girl)
"Many thanks to my friend Arianna Lint, Positively Trans and especially The Well Project and program, Building HOPE. My name is Brennda Vanneza Scalant, originally from El Salvador. Positive for a long time, 40 years. I am undetectable, and I have never been diagnosed with AIDS (Thanks to my God). For me, the Speak Out Summit was like opening a giant door and a lot of information light. I really enjoyed seeing all of them as human beings without any distinction. For the sole purpose of fighting together ... I learned that being undetectable Is equal to untransmissible (U = U). I am very inspired to see how we all unite for a single fight. Thank you very much."
- Brenda Vanneza Scalant
"Very good afternoon. For me it was a great experience to participate in Speak Out conference and to share with people like me, who live with the condition, and to be able to learn and help others as a case manager. It was helpful to catch up on all the areas of mental health and safe sex and learn how to give all my clients a first-class service and help them break the stigmas of living HIV positive and have better access to all services.
I also liked learning how to get more funds to be able to continue helping. Also, as a trans woman it was a great privilege to have taken us into account and invite us to such a great event for the first time and I hope it is not the last since I believe that both parties have a lot to learn and things in common that unite us as a great community of women.
Thanks a million for all your unconditional support and making us feel a part of you, since you know we are the most marginalized community of all and with you we feel like a great family and that we are with those who have always been together. A million thanks for such beautiful work and consideration to all of us a million blessings."
“Hello, my name is Frida Guzman. I work and I volunteer for Arianna's center. Attending the Speak Out Summit was a great learning process. One of my favorite topics was how to navigate and see so many organizations that are in the same cause: to train and teach the community.”
"First of all, I want to thank the organizers of Speak Out Summit in South Carolina and also Arianna's Center and The Well Project. Also, their work in the Building HOPE program for giving me the opportunity to have shared with all those friendly and respectful people that made me feel very good. I learned a lot from this meeting about protection, rights and that we are not alone, that together we can fight for our rights and respect as human beings, thank you."
We hope that more opportunities like this one will appear to us, girls of color, affected or living with HIV, who live in the South. Thanks to The Well Project for working with Chicas Como Yo.