Inspired at the Plenary Session: International AIDS Conference 2016
Nikki “Tita Aida” Calma
Day two was off to a good start! I took a quick snap shot of the sunrise from my hotel’s driveway. It was mesmerizing! While waiting for the shuttle bus, I was still feeling star struck with Charlize Theron from last night’s Opening Plenary Session. Charlize who is originally from South Africa has a foundation named after her. She glided out from the stage wing wearing designer jeans, a black fitted blazer, and a shirt that read “GenEndit!” GenEndit is a call to action campaign that her foundation is spearheading. It’s a campaign for today’s youth to shift the social injustices happening right now that is crippling the nation. She was pretty and inspiring.
There was a particular sentence that Charlene uttered that struck me point blank. She said, “If we are going to end AIDS, we must cure the disease in our hearts and minds first.” It was simple, direct, and to the point. It spoke to me immediately. Serving our clients everyday and just being me, I see stigma and discrimination negatively impacting lives of LGBTs. Trans folks in particular who are living with the virus. I see and feel their struggles everyday.
At today’s Plenary Session, I surveyed the ballroom. There were over five thousand guests composed of outreach workers, case managers, health care providers, and volunteers helping hundreds of people living with HIV. They were there to make life easy and provide moments to forget that they are stigmatized everyday. Most of them go far and beyond, doing exactly what Charlene said. Not only do they work with clients to live better and healthier lives, they also work diligently to try and change peoples’ hearts and feelings towards people living with the virus.
The rest of the day went well. I helped at the Transgender Networking Zone in the Global Village with group activities, meeting many new friends! I am looking forward to more fun and upcoming learning experiences!