Our speakers represent a broad diversity of backgrounds from race to sexual orientation – while also sharing a common thread of knowing the impact of HIV firsthand. Speakers are well trained to deal with difficult questions and have experience talking with a broad array of audiences, from classroom to workplace, and college campus to community-based organization.
Whether you are trying to ensure your school is in compliance with Oregon state education laws that require a comprehensive approach to sex education and inclusion of information on HIV, or you’re looking to do sensitivity training around HIV and AIDS in your workplace – CAP’s Speakers Bureau is here to support your needs.
Meet the Speakers:
I was in a monogamous relationship — or so I thought. I found out that my partner had not been monogamous for several years. Two months after we broke up I had surgery. I thought I was tested for HIV as part of the pre-op procedures. I was learning a lot about my ex during this time period. During a talk with a close friend the risk of HIV was discussed. I checked with my General Practitioner and found out that no HIV screening had been done. So I made an appointment and had an HIV antibodies test. A week later my doctors office was trying to contact me. At 6PM that night the phone rang and it was my doctor. I knew that something was up. He told me that this was not the way he wanted to break the news to me. Then several days later I found out that I was his first HIV patient.
Before HIV my life was somewhat promising. I was eighteen and not tremendously focused but reasonably intelligent. The future looked okay. HIV changed that profoundly. In 1985, when I first became positive, my foreseeable future was about two years. One doctor told me to tie up any loose ends and say goodbye to people. It’s now been twenty-five years. It’s a very different world for people with HIV today. I am hopeful, but I do wish I could talk with that eighteen year old. To tell myself to live like a man who will live eighty years, to pursue dreams and find focus beyond just living day to day. My greatest loss isn’t my life to HIV, it is the time I’ve lost to fear.
I tested positive for HIV in April 1998. Subsequently, I found out I was quite ill with Hepatitis C and spent a year doing interferon chemotherapy, which was debilitating but successful. I did not handle myself well and began using methamphetamine to combat fatigue. It lead to a serious addiction, criminal activity, and a 15-month sentence in Federal prison. With the help of a supportive family and the light bulb that flicked on in my brain, I was able to turn those experiences into something beneficial. In the last 12 years, I’ve been active locally as well as volunteering extensively in Kenya. I’ve had some close calls with death in the last 3 years but am too stubborn to succumb. I thoroughly love sharing with others the wisdom I’ve gained from both my mistakes and my successes.
Maricela Berumen is a Latina mother of four who tested positive for HIV in 2003. Initially it was not easy for her to deal with her diagnosis. Like many others who test positive for HIV, she felt devastated and alone, yet it was her family who motivated her to find a sense of responsibility towards her community. She sought out Hispanic HIV/AIDS support groups; however she quickly realized the lack of resources and organizational support. Maricela volunteered for various non-profit organizations and promoted safer sex. By going to schools, churches and Migrant camps and sharing her story with others, she earned the respect and trust of the community. To this day, Maricela is active in the community promoting HIV prevention/awarness. “For me sharing my story with others has changed my life forever; it has helped me want to live. I have HIV, HIV does not have me. Why? Because I have it under control and I am not allowing it to control me!”
I was diagnosed at the height of my dance career. It was a time when I went from very popular to diseased and taboo. Many years of struggle ensued to overcome it all. But I progressed to be the opposite of everything I used to be. I’ve learned how to love unconditionally and that sex doesn’t equate to love; what it is to be human, not perfect; to have control over my life and not my life have control over me. HIV/AIDS taught me to be human.
After being married to my husband for two years, I received a phone call in 1986 from my mother telling me that someone I dated between 1980-81 had AIDS. That’s the reason why I was tested and I found out that I was HIV positive. I’ve lost many friends to AIDS since then, but I’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive HIV negative husband for 25 years who has helped me get through it all. Although HIV is no picnic, it has helped me grow in ways that I don’t believe I would have grown if not for the disease. I am a fighter and my first priority is my health.
A mother’s worst fear is that something will happen to one of her children. My youngest son had some health problems when he was younger but nothing prepared me for the phone call from him in the summer of 1998. A routine physical resulted in a diagnosis of HIV and also hepatitis C, both of which he had probably been infected with for a number of years. As mothers do, I tried to hide my fears as I heard his distraught voice telling me about the ramifications that would follow the diagnosis. Feelings of love, concern, support, guilt, and lack of knowledge about the two illnesses would flood my head and my heart then and over the ensuing years. My son struggled with drug/alcohol addiction, incarceration,severe health problems, and emotional problems for a number of years. His family and I are extremely proud that he just celebrated 9 years of sobriety, he has spent months in Kenya instructing about HIV/AIDS prevention and care, he volunteers for CAP and has given back to the community, he practices a healthy life style, and feels good about himself. Do I still worry? Of course, but now it is with the knowledge that my son can lead a productive and full life, even with the diagnosis that at one time I so feared.