#NewWarrior Jeffrey N – IamHIV
by Jeffrey Navarre
Every year I do a cycling event from Miami to Key West. It’s called the Smart Ride and it raises money for HIV charities in Florida.
Some of the reasons I do the ride:
- My husband works for one of the charities that benefits from the funds raised.
- I love to cycle.
- I am a Navy Veteran and I have great healthcare and the money I raise will help people affected by HIV get the medical treatment they need.
- The event also helps educated people about HIV/AIDS, to remove some of the stigma still associated with this disease.
Florida has the highest rate of HIV in the country in males 14 – 25 years of age. So, I wanted to do my part.
But I still kept my status a secret. Sure, my very close friends know. But my family does not.
I am healthy and to look at me you would never know.
I still held onto the shame of being HIV.
I found out in 2004. I received treatment right away and never got sick.
But I kept my status a secret. While I would say we need to stop being ashamed of HIV, I was in fact ashamed of it.
After the Pulse Massacre, a ManKind Project brother brought a project designed to remove HIV stigma to my attention. It’s called The Change Project “I am HIV,” a photo shoot that shows people living with or affected by HIV. It does in fact remove stigma.
Friends of mine warned against doing it. “What if my clients or students found out?” (I am a massage therapist and yoga teacher.) “What if my family or bosses found out?” (I work at the local YMCA.)
What if indeed. So what. I am trying to remove the stigma and heal the shame I feel. The photo shoot was this past week in Orlando. I was there.
It was very empowering.
Aren’t we supposed to keep our shadows out in front of us? Well it’s out there for everyone to see and it feels awesome.
I would love it if you would donate to the Smart Ride and help me reach my goal here is the link to my page: 100% of all donations go to the charities. Thank you in advance.
More about the Change Project “I am HIV”
IAMHIV seeks to work toward the end of stigma by engaging people living with and affected by HIV in a viral photo campaign. This campaign intends to give a face to the virus – the familiar face of “everyday people just like you.” AIDS Alabama and The Change Project believe the best way to combat stigma is through visibility. This unique partnership allows the campaign to become viral in 7 of the states with the highest HIV rates in the country. These states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Click here to support this campaign.