This article is a tribute to all the unheard voices that have passed on from life to death. Spiritually, death is not the end of those individuals who died of AIDS related conditions. As an activist and minister, I continue the fight against AIDS and dispel the ignorance about how the disease is contracted.
I live in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City is a very traditional Midwestern city. However, there are many individuals and organizations fighting against the spread of AIDS. AIDS is a disease that does not discriminate. My concern and advocacy work is with the Latino/a, African-American, and Native American communities. I often ask myself: Why these people? The answer is they are a part of my ethnic make-up and I cannot stand silent and see them denied services or care.
I work at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic as a Peer Counselor. As a Peer Counselor, I work hard helping individuals keep their doctors' appointments, case worker appointments and I share up-to-date information about HIV treatments as well. My goal is to also help clients to empower themselves by asking questions such as: Do you know how you contracted HIV? Do you know what your medications are? Are you familiar with the side-effects? What is your goal three months from now and how will you arrive at your goal in your health care? Do you inform your doctor about how you are feeling? Do you know what your CD4 count and viral load are? In case there is an emergency, do you have a card with your medications and personal information on it with you at all times? What are you doing to keep from being re-infected?
As an activist, I am very proactive in the community. I am now the Chair of the African-American AIDS Project of Greater Kansas City. I realize that HIV/AIDS is a problem in the African American and Latino/a communities. Sometimes I have to just speak up and out and let the chips fall where they may. I make no apologies for sacrificing my energy and time because I believe it is making a difference in Kansas City. I am appointed by the mayor of Kansas City to be a part of the Ryan White Planning Council which deals with both prevention and care. In the past I have served as the vice-chair of Ryan White Title I for the Greater Kansas City area. I am also a new correspondent for the Mokan Plus. Mokan Plus is circulated in Missouri, Kansas, Denver, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Because this disease surrounds many political facets, I have to be a strong-willed individual in order to help those who are facing difficulty.
As a minister, I work with a wonderful group of individuals at St. James United Methodist Church. Covenant to Care is a caring group of people that work hard on ministering to those who are living with AIDS. They provide words of inspiration, and make their presence known with open arms and many times go out of their way to make life more comfortable for those who are living with AIDS.
As a spiritual person, I believe in the power of prayer, meditation and making daily affirmations to feed my inner spirit. There are always those who are out to dispel and pull you down, but I do not allow them to define who I am. Each day to me is a day of thanksgiving. I am often confronted with discrimination and marginalization, but through it all I maintain a positive attitude and remain on top because I am here for a purpose. I have no problem sharing my inspiration with those who are down in spirit because I know that there is someone greater than any problem that confronts me.
If you are a minister, case worker, or community activist, you are under a terrorist attack by those who have no knowledge about HIV or of the feelings of those who are living sad lives. Many of our sisters and brothers have died because of the ignorance and we who are alive have the power to change things. Personally, until some churches repent of their discrimination and prejudices, humankind will always be under attack on religious grounds.