• WOCSHN Members Musings for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

    WOCSHN members Brittany Brathwaite Kimberly Huggins published two articles for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) observed on April 10. Below are two articles with an accompanying quote for you to read and share in your networks. Please contact Brittany and Kimberly directly for additional writing inquires.

    You Should Join The National Conversation About AIDS and HIV With #NYHAAD

    As two young women of color born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, we have witnessed the devastating impact that HIV has had globally, within our communities and in our families. From the death of a family member to AIDS in 2010 to learning about HIV by wandering aimlessly into a mobile testing unit for a free metrocard, we quickly realized that though we are 3 decades from the inception of HIV in public consciousness, there’s still a gap in HIV prevention and education. This inspired an unwavering dedication to ending the pandemic through sexual health education, community mobilization, advocacy and empowerment. When we entered college, HIV/AIDS was one of the leading causes of death for young Black women in the United States. While studying at Syracuse University, we began our life-long commitment while working with Sex S.Y.M.B.A.L.S. (Sexually conscious, youthful, mature, black and latino students), which is a student-run organization committed to curtailing the spread of HIV and STDS, preventing sexual violence and promoting healthy sexual decisions. It was through this experience that we realized our passions and discovered our niche. This dedication has in turn translated into Public Health, Social Work and Human Sexuality graduate studies, adolescent health education, feminist youth work and reproductive justice advocacy. Through these efforts and commitments, we are holding ourselves accountable and actively being agents of change in our community.

    8 Things You Can Do To Empower Young People This National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

    1. Create open, honest, and supportive spaces for young people to talk about sex and HIV. Young people need a person that they can depend on to keep it real with them. We need to create spaces that encourage healthy sexual health inquiry and not ones that silence our voices.
    2. Shirk expectations about age and realize young people can be experts on their own lives! We can only envision an AIDS-free generation if young people are included in the conversation. Young people need to advocate for leading roles in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs that impact our lives.
    3. Advocate for better education. We need culturally-relevant, medically accurate, and comprehensive sexuality education in our schools and in our communities.
    4. Utilize social media or Socialize and Prioritize.  Social media is a great way to build communities and share ideas.
    5. Let’s get factual. It is important that we are informed about facts and equipped with appropriate knowledge in order to live a sexually conscious and healthy life!
    6. Lions, tigers and condoms. Oh my! Always use condoms and have one handy. It is better to be prepared and safe then unprepared and at risk.
    7. Testing 1, 2, 3! Know your status, get tested! To find the nearest testing site near you, text your zip code to “KNOWIT (566948). Standard texting rates apply.
    8. Fight stigma! HIV is not a disease about the person. It is a disease about behavior. Any risk behavior no matter who you are puts you at risk for HIV. It is important to remember that the HIV of today is not the HIV of the early 80s. HIV is now a chronic and manageable disease with advanced medical treatments. Let us work together to create a safe space for people and allies living with HIV.
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