[Tweet “Help reduce stigma of HIV by sharing the stories of Michelle and Masonia. #StopHIVTogether”]
Friday afternoon I joined a call with some other bloggers brought together by the CDC. We listened to the stories of Michelle and Masonia: two mothers who, in addition to everything else life was throwing at them (poverty, domestic violence, cancer) were also dealing with the stigma of being HIV+ women in America. While both women described incidents of cruel behavior by people, they wanted to share a message to women and mothers:
Living with HIV doesn’t mean giving up on your hopes and dreams of becoming a mother.
Over a million people in the US are living with HIV. Many have become strong advocates within their communities seeking to connect and reach the woman they once were.
Many women and mothers are standing Together to help each other through the emotional evolution and logistical chaos of an HIV+ diagnosis. As bloggers we may forget how lucky we are to be plugged in to networks of support. We have social media, our blogs, conferences. We have places actual and virtual where we can prop each other up and help each other through parenting issues. Most moms don’t have this kind of connective thread that binds them to other large communities of other moms. Sure there are local parenting groups; groups who meet at the playground or at places of worship.
But can you imagine who you would turn to if you suddenly found out you were diagnosed with HIV? Where would you seek answers or support? Where could you go looking for someone who could guide you through?
There are people ready to help. There are moms, aunts, sisters, brothers. They all have stories and they are sharing them. Maybe there is someone in your life who needs to see one of these stories today.
I connect so strongly to this campaign for many reasons. I love that the CDC has found these resilient, brave, and honest women to step forward and tell us their stories. Statistics can be static and may not reach you in the gut, in the heart. Listening to Masonia share that two weeks after she found out she was pregnant she found out she was HIV+ …and then talking at length about the postpartum depression she endured because no one told her about counseling through her pregnancy makes you want to SCREAM at the universe. How could this happen?!
The CDC says we need to “re-double our efforts to assure that all people know about HIV, how to prevent transmission, their HIV status, and that people with HIV are linked to care, and treatment and prevention services.” When is the last time you reviewed HIV basics?
If you are in the US today is Mother’s Day. It took me a long time to achieve motherhood and I will never once take it for granted. Mothers across the country are fighting battles every day. Today some mothers will fight to prevent their child from becoming HIV+. Today some mentor mothers will take the hand of a mother waiting to find out her test results. It’s happening every day.
You can help these women fight the HIV stigma by amplifying this message today. Wish Michelle, Masonia, and all HIV+ moms a Happy Mother’s Day and get involved to #StopHIVTogether.