Speakers on HIV awareness were at Mighty Peace Day earlier this week.
Paige Rol, 22, who has had HIV since birth says she found out when she was in grade-five and by grade-six she was isolated from her peers because of it.
“I started learning about HIV and getting educated about it, my sixth grade year, I disclosed my status to my best friend and within a few weeks my entire middle school knew… I was bullied because of it, I had notes on my locker, I had a nick name paids…just people didn’t want to be my friend because of it and that just gave me motivation to want to speak and share my story.”
But she says what was the breaking point was when the harassment began from an educator.
“In eighth grade my soccer coach made a joke to my mother, saying that we can use my HIV status to our advantage and the players on the other team would be afraid to touch me and I would be able to score goals….so at that moment I left the school and realized I have to do something so other people don’t go through what I went through what I was going through and started educating and started speaking about it.”
Her story soon took to the pages of a book called Positive.
Rol says you can find her book on internet sources like Amazon and in stores.
Another 21-year-old speaker, Ashley Murphy, was born with HIV, she says it doesn’t define her and education is the key for a cure.
“I really wanted to hone in on the importance of staying in the fight against HIV because it’s far from over and the more educated and aware youth especially become, the more closer we are to having HIV become something of the past…become something that it’s cured and it is so within our grasp.”
They encourage everyone to learn more about HIV and AIDS to alleviate the stigma around the disease.