Before joining the team at Until There’s A Cure, I’d already been involved in various HIV/AIDS organizations on my school’s campus. I participated in our 13th annual Dance Marathon sponsored by the Pediatric AIDS Coalition and was active in my school’s chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority which supports The Laurel Foundation as one of its philanthropies. Attending the school that identified the first case of AIDS and one that has fostered such a strong community of outreach and support makes it difficult to be passionate about this cause. Therefore, it came as a surprise to me that so few people in the US realize that HIV/AIDS is still a problem.
Upon arriving at Until There’s A Cure, I learned that only 6% of the US population believes that HIV/AIDS is an issue prevalent in our society. Clearly, that is not the case. While great strides have been made in HIV/AIDS treatment and research, we still have a ways to go before this disease is completely eradicated. This brings me to to the project on which I’ve been focusing at Until There’s A Cure…
My first day at the internship, I was presented with the task of researching HIV/AIDS within the US. I watched various documentaries including: Our America: “Black America’s Silent Epidemic,” The Other City, How to Survive a Plague, and deepsouth. Watching footage of the everyday struggles and personal testimonials of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS gave me better insight into the stigma surrounding the disease. My heightened awareness of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS helped me take my next project step — getting others to care and take action. Since then, I’ve been brainstorming a lot about the kinds of organizations to which I could reach out. As Lisa Ling emphasized in her documentary feature, Our America: “Black America’s Silent Epidemic,” the HIV rate is disproportionately high in black America and especially among African American women. In consideration of this fact, I explored a multitude of organizations and influential figures of color — multiracial fraternities, business groups, universities, and entrepreneurs. It is our hope that by forging relationships with such widely known and respected organizations and people, we can bring national attention to restart a conversation about HIV/AIDS and ultimately end the lack of understanding, shame and injustice surrounding this disease. Raising awareness is the first step toward overcoming this issue.
Interning at Until There’s A Cure has helped me gain valuable experience in the working world. More importantly, it has allowed me to more fully devote myself to this important cause. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside a great group of people whose shared dedication, commitment and passion to the HIV/AIDS movement will continue to inspire me and guide my efforts beyond my internship.