Ask the Advocate: What I've Learned About Myself Through Advocacy
The activism, strength, and resilience of the HIV/AIDS community has brought access to life-saving medicines, social services, and care for so many people.
Everyone's journey of living with HIV looks different. Because of this, it is not always possible or easy for some people to be public about their HIV status. However, many people find engaging in HIV advocacy as a way to actively support a community that has enriched their personal lives.
People can learn a lot about themselves while participating in community outreach and advocacy. So we asked community advocates for H-I-V.net: "What has engaging in HIV advocacy and awareness taught you about yourself?"
What I've learned about myself
"It has taught me that I can help inspire and motivate others to live with HIV. It has made me a better person and has made me more humble and loving towards all human beings." - Dee
"I find myself saying this often, but HIV advocacy has taught me that there is life beyond my diagnosis. All the hopes and dreams I had before I was aware of my status, still exist. The intricacies of what makes me unique, amazing, and remarkable are actually magnified because they are applied to purpose. I have learned that my voice, perspectives, and insights aren’t just pigeonholed to HIV but all the intersections that allow the virus to still have the regrettable residue of stigma today. I get to show up in spaces, speak my truth, and operate in all my identities while dismantling the systems that tried to control my narrative. I have denied that narrative and the statistics that said I wouldn’t survive this. Advocacy and activism have made me more aware of the need for change and that this diagnosis aligns with my purpose of why I’m here." - Kamaria"I have learned that my experience is a shared one, but that not all aspects are shared; we each have our own views and histories shaping our realities. Thus, I have learned both that I am not alone and also that I can't speak for others." - Nicholas
"I jumped in the deep end early on, which isn’t something I’d recommend. I came out about my status on socials less than 6 months after my diagnosis; I didn’t see people my age out there talking about anything but prevention. I thought, 'Where are the people my age talking about living well with HIV?' The outpouring of love and support from complete strangers - people who came up to me in private and said "me too" - has taught me that if you say aloud the things that others are afraid to whisper, you become a voice and not a victim. It taught me that I am so much stronger and unstoppable than I ever could’ve imagined." - Kalvin
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