Triumph Over Adversity: A Decade of Advocacy on National Women's and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Submitted on Mar 10, 2024 by  Harmony_Rey

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, with a theme of Prevention and Testing at Every Age. Care and Treatment at Every Stage. This is a day to raise awareness about the impact of HIV on women and show support for women and girls with HIV. #NWGHAAD #StopHIVTogether

As we commemorate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2024, I can't help but reflect on my journey over the past decade, filled with challenges, resilience, and ultimately, triumph. I moved to Las Vegas on February 13, 2013, and as I sit here in Huntington, WV on that same day 11 years later, here are my thoughts:

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, navigating the realm of public health advocacy as a woman living with HIV presented numerous hurdles, yet it was a path I felt compelled to tread.

Together, we can overcome any obstacle and usher in a world where every woman is empowered to thrive, regardless of her HIV status.

For those ten years, I dedicated myself to the cause, volunteering tirelessly within my local community while landing only a couple of jobs in office administration due to my lack of formal experience or training in the public health sector. So I began working with organizations such as The Well Project, Positive Women's Network, and SERO Project to gain that much needed training. Despite my unwavering commitment, compensation was minimal, often limited to much appreciated stipends or sporadic writing gigs from publications like A & U Magazine. It was a labor of love, driven by a fervent desire to make a difference in my community and combat the stigma surrounding HIV.

However, amidst my efforts, I couldn't shake the feeling of being kept at arm's length, a sentiment reinforced by gatekeepers within the industry. It seemed that opportunities for meaningful involvement were reserved for those who didn't resemble me or share my journey as an individual assigned female at birth. The uphill battle was disheartening, but I refused to be deterred.

Then, after being priced out of Las Vegas last year I moved to Huntington, WV, and in February of this year, a ray of hope emerged as I secured a position as an Engagement Specialist at Harmony House, a beacon of support for individuals experiencing homelessness. This role represented more than just employment—it symbolized a long-awaited breakthrough. Finally, doors that had once been firmly shut were swinging open, welcoming me with open arms.

Every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

Having lived with HIV since 1996, I keenly felt the hand of exclusion since my diagnosis. My aspiration to contribute to HIV prevention efforts within my own communities seemed perpetually out of reach. But now, the tide has turned, and the difference is palpable. The air feels lighter, infused with the promise of progress and inclusivity.

To women who find themselves newly diagnosed with HIV, I offer these words of encouragement: keep your head held high, even in the face of adversity. Despite the challenges and judgmental gazes from your local community, remember that resilience is your greatest ally. Every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

I implore you to press on, for each stride brings us closer to a future free from the grip of HIV stigma and discrimination. Let us march forward together, united in our resolve to defy expectations and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. And always remember, even baby steps are steps—each one propels us closer to our goals.

For those people who are untested and possibly living with undiagnosed HIV, I urge you to take command of your health this year and head out to get tested so that we can get everyone who has been exposed to an undetectable status - and help end HIV with our generation!

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A Girl Like Me blogger, Harmony Rey.

As we commemorate National Women's and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, let us celebrate our collective strength, resilience, and unwavering determination. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and usher in a world where every woman is empowered to thrive, regardless of her HIV status.

I love this song right now, I keep it near the top of my playlist.
CHAMPION

#NWGHAAD

Kind regards,
Harmony Rey

Submitted by Red40something
2

this part "Together, we can overcome any obstacle and usher in a world where every woman is empowered to thrive, regardless of her HIV status." 

<3 Love it. Thanks for your work and consistency! Its inspiring! 

 

Submitted by arnoldmom
2

I hear you. See you. Appreciate you.

This resonates so much with me tonight!

Every step forward, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

 

Submitted by boseolotu
2

Just like you said sis, in this blog 

“Together, we can overcome any obstacle and usher in a world where every woman is empowered to thrive, regardless of her HIV status.”

Together we can win and end the stigma and discrimination because it begins with me and you my other sisters.

Thank you so much for sharing I appreciate you strength and courage sister.

And a big Congratulations on your new job!

Submitted by KatieAdsila
0

This was very inspiring, thank you for the work you do and congratulations on your new job and strength in all your endeavors 

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