I am Mars, they/them pronouns please. I’ve been alive 31 years and was born HIV+ in 1988. I was raised in inner-city Chicago, Humboldt Park to be exact. It was a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood, so I fit right in. I was adopted into a strict, conservative household. This was after all the alcohol and drug-induced binges for days on end leaving my older brother and I alone caused our biological mother to be deemed unfit to take care of us. I am a Certified Electrician in Chicago but never gained any true experience to make a career out of it. I moved from Chicago to Upstate NY in 2011. I feel like my adult life began when I moved. I started working at a call center, and soon after got a part-time building maintenance job. It was a work experience that truly helped me establish my career.
Now, I am an HIV Advocate and a Spokesmodel for the NY State HIV Stops With Me Campaign. I am on the Consumer Advisory Committee run by the AIDS Institute; co-chair of the Aging with HIV and Long-term Care Subcommittee. I am affiliated with a few different youth advocacy committees with whom I frequently collaborate with youth events and short info videos. I am a mentor and a resource within the HIV Community and hope to continue to raise awareness about HIV. I work full-time for the largest health insurance platform in the state of NY. I’ve been there 6 years now, have worked my way into the Learning and Development Department. First, as a content trainer, training new hires how to do their jobs while also implementing process improvements. I am now the department’s Internal Auditor.
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