HIV Stops With Me Campaign Launches in Charlottesville
A national campaign launched in Charlottesville Thursday to fight HIV. It's called the HIV Stops With Me campaign and it aims to decrease the stigma in central Virginia.
Tinera Calloway is one of four spokespeople taking part in the campaign and says being HIV positive has changed her life but not her spirit. She explained, "We don't look sick, you know were not infectious. You can touch us you can talk to us you can do whatever."
Calloway is HIV positive, and she is going public to stomp out the stigma surrounding the disease. Her infection came shortly after she fell head over heels for a man in 1997.
Calloway said, "You would've never known that he was HIV positive - he was gorgeous."
After using condoms for a year, Calloway's lover convinced her otherwise. She said, "He said, well its just you and me why cant we just not use condoms - so I did."
After several months - Calloway contracted the disease. Calloway said, "I broke out in a rash, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed in April of 1998."
He finally admitted his illness to Calloway three months before he died. She added, "He always said, I don't have aids, I don't have aids."
But he did. Calloway eventually got married and had two children - Jonathon and Paris. She isn't the only one trying to get rid of the aids stigma.
Peter Demartino, the executive director of the AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG) said, "Particularly here in rural Virginia - its so important to find four people who are brave enough and strong enough to share their stories."
Chauntele Taylor of the Virginia Department of Health added, "As well as resources as well as information about disclosure for persons who are positive."
Calloway hopes standing up for her disease has the same impact she has on her children. She said, "They are affected. They are not infected. Now that you've met me your affected, so yes they are affected - but they are empowered as well."
Thursday evening, the campaign dined at four restaurants in Charlottesville as part of a national day of fundraising for aids services. A portion of their bill will go back to ASG.
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