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Empowered: Women & HIV

Alicia Keys: I’m Alicia Keys. And I am passionate about ending AIDS. I’ve done a lot of work international AIDS issues. I was first introduced to it in 2001. That was a big life changer for me, and that has set my path about fighting the AIDS pandemic. I happened to go to this Kaiser Foundation sponsored event.
AK Footage: “I’m very emotional…and that’s how it should be.” There were these incredible women all in one room. And they were sharing their stories, you know. And they were living right here in America. And…were just like me, you know. And I realized right there, I was like, wow, there is a whole thing going on here in America that I need to turn my attention to as well. AIDS in America, it is like right here, right now, and we have to start talking about it. I sat down to talk with five amazing women who are HIV positive. They are confronting the stigma of HIV head on. Together, we want to change the way you think about HIV. You might know women like them in your own life. They’re mothers, wives, daughters, students, caregivers, business owners. They’re just like you, and they’re just like me. I’m so excited to meet these incredible women. They are such powerful special human beings and they all happen to be HIV positive. It’s not out of anyone’s realm of possibility when you hear these women’s stories. That could be you, that could be your sister, that could be your daughter, that could be all of us. I think we can educate ourselves too in order to really understand what is this thing that’s really going on, what is this epidemic, what is this pandemic. How is it affecting the people in my neighborhood? And I think once we open our eyes to see what’s going on, you realize that people you love and respect and admire could be dealing with this too. It affects us, all of us. We’re not talking about this here.
Kym: You’re right.
AK: We don’t even having these kind of conversations or where it comes from or what it feels and so learning just how much HIV and AIDS are affecting women in particular. I got fired I’m not angry although I did feel kind of an anger in the sense or maybe just a passion. You know I want to just start to speak more and feel like for us to have it down.
Eva: That’s natural. As a woman, you’re like okay why are we not talking about this? Why is this not being you know put out there more than what it is?
AK: Do you think we know that we’re at risk? Like as women, do we know we’re at risk
Stephanie: I don’t think the reality set into say that we’re at risk. Because before I got diagnosed, I didn’t think I was at risk.
Jen: I didn’t think I was either and pretty much everyone who ends up HIV positive says I didn’t think it could happen to me and then it happened to me. I guess living with HIV day-today is in a way it’s a bubble because I don’t understand everybody else’s perceptions and every once in a while I get a peek into it because I find out that somebody who’s known be for a while had no idea I was HIV positive and then they’re shocked. You know, how can you be a mom, you have a husband and he’s HIV negative and you two have sex?
Stephanie: We have the HIV world and what we do when we speak and then we have what people don’t know about. We have masks that we wear everyday and they see us but they have no idea what;s in the background. So it’s like a double life.
AK: Do you find yourself more comfortable in one space or the other?
Stephanie: I find myself more comfortable in the HIV world because I don’t have nothing to hide.
Eva: Society is afraid of what they don’t know right.
Cristina: And it’s okay to be scared cause fear is a fair emotion to have. But if you don’t, if we don’t look at the people who are scared and try as a community to move our fear into let’s be motivated to learn, lets be motivated to listen, let’s be motivated to try to understand, whether it’s affected, infected, at risk, not at risk you know in any stage of our life. I think that’s where fear can be a really powerful emotion but only if we take it to the next level.
Kym: Right, we have to channel it exactly.
Jen: I really think we have the control right now to end this virus in our generation if we stay informed.