World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year. People around the world unite in the fight against HIV.
According to Imane Sidibé, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), "Women are a fast growing segment of people living with HIV worldwide. In fact, every minute, one woman is infected by HIV, and globally, 49 percent of all adults living with HIV are women."
Kamaria Laffrey, 32, is part of the fastest growing segment of women diagnosed with HIV. In 2003, Laffrey was diagnosed with HIV and was devastated, as well as unprepared emotionally to handle her diagnosis.
However, more than 10 year later, Laffrey has turned her life around and she has become an advocate for women with HIV.
In a telephone interview, Laffrey said, "I want women with HIV to know that you are not alone and other women are standing with them."
Laffery’s journey took a lot of twists and turns as she tried to navigate coming to terms with her diagnosis, as well as finding a doctor and a support system. With limited knowledge about HIV, she felt painfully alone after her diagnosis.
Laffery didn’t know where to turn or how to communicate her concerns, and even began changing her daily routines in fear that she would spread HIV to her family and loved ones.
By telling her story in conjunction with World AIDS Day, Laffery hopes to empower other women, especially since the disease carries many stigmas. She also hopes to highlight the "See Us: Women Take a Stand on HIV" campaign.
The campaign is focused on helping to address unique challenges for women with HIV. Laffery along with other HIV advocates helped to create dialogue tools on the www.IAPAC.org/seeus website.
The dialogue tools are in an infographic style format and are meant as a resource to outline what important conversations women should have with their doctors once being diagnosed with HIV. These tools are what Laffery wished she'd had after she was diagnosed, to guide her through that scary, vulnerable time.
The dialogue tools include various age groups can be found here. There is one for adolescence, childbearing, and menopause age groups since care changes dramatically at each life stage.
As Sidibé stated, "Women living with HIV have unique needs through each stage of life, from childbearing years to menopause. We encourage women living with HIV to get out of the shadows, build a sense of community and, ultimately, have a voice. For more information or to view the dialogue tools in seven different languages, please visit the campaign website at www.IAPAC.org/seeus . "
In addition, Laffrey said, "I am big on legacy." Laffrey’s life is just beginning as she recently became married and feels that she needs to be a role model for her daughter, as well as for women with HIV.
ABBVIE PARTNERS WITH HIV COMMUNITY TO LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL AWARENESS CAMPAIGN FOCUSED ON WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV. Abbie.
VIDEO: Woman Living with HIV Explains Why She's 'Thankful' for the Diagnosis. Health News Florida.
Reviewed November 27, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith