Today is World AIDS Day, and we were deeply touched by this post by Leteria Bailey. Bailey is the founder of Young, Black and Aware, an organization whose purpose is to bring awareness to racism in communities of color through social media. She has brought awareness to the issues involving social injustice, education, and advocacy for teen girls and young women of color. Bailey is also an aspiring podcaster who continues to enjoy volunteering in her community, and has represented organizations as a public ambassador at venues including The White House.
The following is what Bailey shared today:
In 2001, at age 22 my mother died from HIV/Aids. I was 8 years old. This was something I struggled to come to terms with in my youth and even now as an adult. It scared me. It scared the sh** out of me to know that someone so young and full of life could die from something you couldn’t even see. I remember in Jamaica when I saw the dead body of someone who was shot as they were being rolled past the crime scene on a bed and I admit— I was shocked. But the sight of seeing my own mother through the hospital gate slowly dying and even begging for her own death, because of the pain she was in is the kind of shock that I could never forget.
Fast forward—-a few years later when I was in middle school a boy called me an “HIV infected girl”. Needless to say, I burst out in tears and immediately snitched on him, and he was suspended for a few days. But it hurt me. It hurt me that sharing a piece of my life story about my mother backfired and was used against me to taunt me.
Well now I’m 24 years old and no longer scared of middle school boys that make you cry, and I am proud to share the story of my mother. She had me at age 14 and died at age 22. For some time my goals in life were to: 1. Not get pregnant by age 14 and 2. Not die by age 22–as silly and stupid as that may sound. In our youth and even as adults in America, promiscuity is not called out; it’s promoted. From the internet, social media, music, TV, radio—everything is telling us to have sex. But who shares the consequences of sex? Who shares that you could lose your life as you know it because of sex? Who shares that you could lose your LIFE because of sex?
I am now not ashamed or scared to share my mother’s story because I’m hoping that just one person may be inspired to think before they have unprotected sex without being tested. If you’re not, PLEASE go get tested on a regular basis. Stop thinking sex is JUST SEX. While I am having my child ten years later than my mom did, I’m sure I’m just as scared as she was. I want to be there for my child and see my child grow up and flourish and teach him that the things you do in life have consequences good and bad. This World Aids Day, I challenge you to learn more about HIV/Aids and share that knowledge with someone else. Thanks for allowing me to share my mother’s story with you all. Rest in heaven Zingha Natalie Taylor.
We also wanted to note the following Fast Facts via HIV.gov.
- More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV today, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it.
- An estimated 37,600 Americans became newly infected with HIV in 2014.
- From 2008 to 2014, the estimated number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. declined 18%.
- Gay and bisexual men, particularly young African American gay and bisexual men, are most affected.
- Southern states bear the greatest burden of HIV, accounting for 50% of new infections in 2014.
- In the jurisdictions where they could be estimateda, annual infections in all states decreased or remained stable from 2008-2014.
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