I was born in South Carolina but mostly raised in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska. My family moved back to the lower 48 just in time for me to graduate in Sumter, South Carolina in 1975. My father was in the United States Air Force so my family moved around a lot. My father's last duty station was in Homestead, Florida.
There I met and married an Air Force Sargeant. So while I was on the move again, I had two beautiful children (a daughter now 33 and a son now 25) that made the journey even better. We lived and visited places like Germany, Belgium, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arizona and California. I moved to Jacksonville in 1996 when I separated and ultimately divorced in 2000. After traveling for most of my life, I am at home here in Jacksonville and love it here.
During my travels I started taking college classes but did not finish. Subsequently, my goal is to obtain my degree in public health. I have been a Nationally Certified Medical Assistant since 1993. I love the medical field and people which is probably why I am a Health Educator for the Duval County Health Department. I started working for the Health Department as a DIS (Disease Intervention Specialist) in the jail at JSO and as a Health Educator/Prevention Training Consultant at the Boulevard Comprehensive Care Clinic.
On April 12, 2006, some magnificent volunteers and I created the ROSE support later to become the ROSE Peer Education Group. The ROSE meaning Talking Helping & Educating while Raising Oneness with Sisters Everywhere is a group of women infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS that meet twice a month. This group has changed the lives of women by helping, talking and educating about HIV and AIDS. First by providing a safe, confidential place where women can freely talk about their status and all of the every day trials, issues and concerns with their peers and people that truly care about them which is emotionally satisfying. Then helping each other (peer to peer) has taught them that lending a hand to their peer is more rewarding than receiving. Helping is not monetary, it can be sharing of resource, information and/or oneself which goes a lot further. Last of all by educating the women on all aspects of the HIV/AIDS virus from medical adherence, HIV 101 - 104, disclosure, condom negotiations skills, stigma, HIV politics and more has created powerful and self assured women. And from there the THORNS (Talking, Helping & Education Through Heads Organizing with Responsibility, Nuture and Strength) was created. The THORNS is a group for men infected and/or affected by the HIV/AIDS virus which is now meeting once a month.
I talked to people who are infected and/or affected by HIV and AIDS on a daily basis. As a Prevention Training Consultant, I want everyone to know that HIV is preventable. While there is no cure, HIV is treatable. I want to work on educating the world about HIV and AIDS and that people are dying from it every day.
Last year, I lost four wonderful friends from complications due to AIDS. It affected over a million lives in the United States alone.
I have also seen the stigma and have had many tell me they have been outcasted by their own families because of their HIV status. My dream is to educate everyone I come into contact with to not only help stop the spread of this disease but also the stigma. Sometimes the stigma can be more harmful than the virus itself.
Remember to hug your special someone with HIV today.
We are here to help you.