CAP Speakers Bureau’s mission is to educate the community about HIV, reduce stigma, and empower those living with HIV to share their story.
Our speakers represent diverse races, ages, genders, and sexual orientations, but they share one thing in common: first-hand experience with HIV’s challenges. No matter how difficult the questions raised or complex the issues, our speakers educate audiences from middle schools and high schools to businesses and social service nonprofits with scientifically accurate—yet deeply personal—stories and information.
Whether you are trying to ensure your school is in compliance with Oregon state education laws, which require a comprehensive approach to sex education including information on HIV, or you are looking to do sensitivity training on HIV in your workplace – CAP Speakers Bureau is here to support you.
Meet the Speakers:
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 leads 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 and awareness. “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. That was 32 years ago and I’m still in the fight to end new HIV infections, although we’ve made great strides in the science of HIV social acceptance and stigma still have us at a place where we are still getting the same amount of new infections each year as we did 32 years ago.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. The extent of my sexual education was a dancing cartoon condom played on a television in a room full of snickering 5th grade males and teachers. While my parents did their best, my knowledge of sexual health, contraceptives, STI’s, and all things sex was hardly comprehensive. As I began to ask questions that “Charlie the Dancing Condom” failed to address, I found I could always count on CAP for a smiling and informed individual with answers based on scientific data. I have worked with CAP in a few different capacities. I supported the 2016 Art Auction as a donations intern and worked as a summer camp counselor for Camp KC – a summer camp offered to children who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Additionally, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Speakers Bureau since January of 2016, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to encourage others to make informed decisions about their sexual health through research-based education.
Michael Lee Howard
I was diagnosed with HIV in 2005. Upon my diagnosis I decided to dedicate my life to educating people about HIV, sex positivity, and hopefully be a role model. I am also dedicated to reducing stigma surrounding sexual health and HIV. I believe that by being transparent with my story I can teach others that it is healthy to speak openly about your life and all aspects of it. I have had the honor of being featured in an article for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS foundation as well as a CNN news piece on HIV and tattoos. My hope is that my mistakes will help someone to make healthier choices.