I often keep in touch with campers that I meet through Camp Kindle, a summer camp for kids infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. It’s always rewarding to hear about the great things my campers are involved with during the 51 weeks out of the year that they aren’t in my cabin. Paige Rawl, one of my Leaders-in-Training from last summer is a certified HIV/AIDS educator and youth speaker and recently attended the United States Conference on AIDS in Orlando, Florida. I asked Paige if she would be interested in sharing about her time at the conference, the kinds of topics that she encountered and the people she met. Take it away Paige!—
In September of 2010 I had the opportunity to attend the United States Conference on AIDS in Orlando, Florida. I won second place for submitting a video to the National Minority AIDS Council, which included airfare, hotel, and entry fee. This year the conference was based on youth and HIV. I was the youngest one to attend the conference. I had the opportunity to share my story at many of the seminars and I met a lot of wonderful people.
Attending this conference has opened up many doors for me to travel and share my story. In December, I will be going to Delaware to speak for an organization called Delaware AIDS, for World AIDS Day. Also, I will be attending a week-long conference for youth in May of 2011 in Washington D.C. and will be meeting with many that I have met while I was at the USCA.
Since attending the conference, I have had the opportunity to speak at several schools in Indiana to share my story. Even though I focus on speaking about the stigma that goes along with HIV/AIDS, I didn’t realize until after the conference, hearing so many other stories, and meeting so many people from other states that after you hit eighteen, it can be difficult to get your medicines covered by insurance. And medicine can cost up to $1,000 dollars a month, placing a heavy burden on those young and infected with HIV/AIDS.
While I was at the conference I got to see a viewing of The Other City, a documentary about the HIV epidemic in Washington D.C. I also got to meet J’Mia Edwards, an HIV positive woman in the film who had trouble with both finding stable housing for her and her children, and consequently, with being able to pay for HIV medication.
I enjoyed attending the United States Conference on AIDS this year and already have plans to attend the conference again next year which will be held in Chicago, Illinois!