Red Pump Stories: “I Didn’t Think HIV Applied To Me”
BlackDoctor.org is excited for this content partnership with The Red Pump Project to feature the Red Pump Stories, an initiative created to document the narratives, struggles, and successes of women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This initiative will further the mission of decreasing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and allow us to stand with women who have experienced first-hand the impact of this condition.
Do you know how important it is to get tested for HIV?
As proud supporters of the CDC’s #DoingIt campaign, we encourage every man and woman to get tested as the first step toward preventing transmission. It is a priority and should be on everyone’s list of to-dos THIS SUMMER.
At Red Pump, we’ve been blessed to feature women all over the world who advocate the importance of getting tested and how people can protect themselves. This month, we are happy to share with you the story of Kamaria Laffrey, an international advocate, speaker and consultant working on HIV decriminalization, treatment adherence, and women and girl’s empowerment of health.
Look below, and take a moment to read how Kamaria embraces active testing, healing and inspiration by living victoriously.
Red Pump: Why is it important for women to speak openly about HIV?
Kamaria: I think that it’s important for women living with HIV because we know first-hand the issues that are being faced, what life would be like without those issues and have insight into the needs that could improve services that we currently receive (and in some places don’t). The topic of HIV is important for all women to speak about because I believe that testing is important! HIV impacts us differently than men socially, emotionally, psychologically, financially and politically. It will take a united front of women living with HIV and women impacted by HIV to truly bring about the change that we seek and cast a light on the shadow of stigma that cripples our health.
Red Pump: How has HIV/AIDS affected your life and family?
Kamaria: I was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 after giving birth to my daughter. I had no prenatal care because I tried to hide my pregnancy during the first two trimesters while weighing the option to terminate the pregnancy. Had I never given birth to my daughter, I would have never been tested willingly because I didn’t think HIV applied to me. Twelve years later, she is still the reason I am motivated to push through days of wanting to give up, encourage people to not only know their status but empower those living with HIV to come out of the shadows and stay consistent with treatment. HIV is my life passion that is bittersweet, but I wouldn’t change a thing on this journey, as it has taught me to embrace healing, by giving inspiration (in forgiveness) and living victoriously.