Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom from someone living with HIV

Kamaria Laffrey; One thing I would like to say to the community is that your voice and your needs are valid  everything that you are as a person before your diagnosis still matters after your diagnosis. Your humanity, your dignity, your fears, your joy, your pleasures and all that makes you who you are; HIV doesn’t take that away.”
“To our community allies and department of health officials I strongly encourage you to continue the work you do with hearts that look at PLHIV as not just clients or individuals that need to be tracked or filling out a survey but as humans that can help you provide the services we need if you listen to us every day. If you have never read the Denver Principles or the Oslo Declaration please do so and let it be a guardrail to how you engage with PLHIV, how you submit for funding and compile reports and how you intentionally center the meaningful involvement of PLHIV (MIPA) as subject matter experts; people skilled and dedicated beyond biomedical responses. There’s a place for us to work collectively to end the epidemic.”

Kamaria Laffrey is an HIV/AIDS Consultant who serves as Program Director for The Sero Project and Founder of EmPOWERed Legacies, an organization that seeks to provide education, resources, and support to those affected by HIV/AIDS.  When asked about what it will take to end HIV in Pinellas County, she states “It will take the continued resourcing to those most impacted by HIV. Meaningfully involving people living with HIV beyond volunteerism and advisory will go a long way towards meeting the needs of the populations continuously marginalized inclusive of the trans community, intravenous drug users and those released from incarceration to be properly housed and linked to quality care.”Ms. Laffrey firmly believes that the HIV epidemic will end during her lifetime.  She elaborates by saying, “I believe I will even see a cure to this in my lifetime  we have made so many advances and of the systems that have contributed to stigma continue to be challenged and called out, we will survive the gatekeeping to see the end of this.” When asked for one word that comes to mind regarding EHE, Ms. Laffrey answered, “

Words of Wisdom from a Parent

Je're Clements is a nurse and mother 5.  When asked what it will take to end the HIV Epidemic in Pinellas County she remarked, “Education. Just getting the word out about it, how to stop the spread. Education on condoms and (spreading) the word out about how to prevent it (HIV).”
She does not feel that education in the school has been comprehensive to prevent the spread of HIV. Because of this limited public awareness, she feels like the HIV epidemic will not end in her lifetime.
When questioned about the ending of HIV he stated, “No I do not (think is will end in my lifetime). I don’t think that there is enough education or awareness. I don’t think there is enough exposure about how rampant it is especially in Pinellas county.” Additionally, she goes on to say “More education with parents so they can feel more comfortable having difficult conversations with their teenagers. (We need) More parental support.” When asked what was the one thing that could be changed to make EHE a reality Mrs. Clements replied, “That’s a good question… getting more literature out. Making it more accessible and having more testing. We can start at community centers and churches, places like that to begin spreading the word.” When being asked what one word comes to mind when she thinks about Ending the HIV epidemic, she replies,” Knowledge.... Just knowing more about it and knowing how rampant it is.” She continues, “Shining a spotlight on it (HIV) will show how bad it is in Pinellas County and how prevailing it is.”

Words of Wisdom from a Social Media Influencer (SMI)

De'Mario King Jives;  When asked what it will take to end the HIV Epidemic in Pinellas County, De’Mario” King” Jives stated, “A lot of involvement and a lot of education. I think it’s really important to know the resources that are available to them. Also, for people not to be afraid. Some people are afraid for afraid of family or religion or their communities from getting the help and resources that they need. Some people try to avoid it, deal with it holistically or naturally and some people just die with it in silence; so, I think awareness and education will help.”  When asked if he believed her would be alive to see the end of the HIV epidemic, King Jives responded, “I would hope so. I really would hope so.” However, there are several things that need to change for this to become a reality. Jive states that, “One thing that they are going to have to change is getting everyone involved. They are going to have to involve the church and the communities. All communities. Not just broadcasting it in events but involving them in the community. Everyone is going to have to get involved. Everyone, not just people of color because people perceive that it (HIV) is just an issue effecting people of color but it is not. It involves everyone and we all must get involved. Everyone is affected by this epidemic. It just has to be worded and marketed for different groups, so they know it is for them as well.” He continues with, “It takes people like me (SMI) and others to put the information out there so that people can get the help they need. But people are scared. There is a barrier that people are afraid of, information needs to be broadcasted so that people will know and get the help they need.”  Words that Mr. Jives thinks about when he hears “Ending the HIV Epidemic” are: “Ending it” he says. He goes on to say, “meaning there will be no more disease. If someone catches it then they are able to get help immediately and ending it is possible, but it will just take a lot of work.”  Words of wisdom from a SMI: “As a SMI we do have the power to get the word out. It will take a familiar face to get the message out and it takes a familiar face to talk about the help and hope that is available for people who need it.”

Words of Wisdom from a Physician

 Dr. Carina Rodriquez;  When asked What will it take to end HIV in Pinellas County, Dr. Carina Rodriguez replied,” It will need a comprehensive plan to reach those not reached by traditional methods. We will need to increase in ART (Antiretroviral treatment) and decrease in paperwork process needed to receive care. Also treating those with STI. We need to tackle STIs.” She goes on to say,” Understand that education, adding dissemination with community and HIV clinicians is important. The FLDOH can reach more of the community. We can reach many more people with education. Education is very important through social media, prevention campaigns and virtual education to keep the community informed.”
When asked if Dr. Rodriguez believed that she would see the end of HIV in her lifetime she stated, “I hope so. There are a lot of new developments. There are efforts towards injectables and vaccines.  Vaccines have been developed quickly like those for the COVID crisis response. We do have advancements in treatment and prevention like PREP and possible leaning towards a vaccine. We are seeing more activity with PrEP for prevention and that is a good thing, so I am hopeful.”
However, to see the ending of the HIV epidemic, Dr. Rodrigues states the following, “I think will take a combination of different strategies. It’s not just clinical issues. It’s also housing, employment, etc... If you don’t have housing or a job, its less likely to adhere to treatment or go to the doctor. It’s a comprehensive approach. It must be a comprehensive response which is more a political response (for equity). It (HIV) does effect disproportionately people of color so to impact those communities, there will need to be a more comprehensive approach than just clinical treatment.”   One word that comes to mind when Dr. Rodriquez thinks of when she hears Ending the HIV Epidemic, she replied,Hope- I will be hopeful to end HIV. We do have the tools, but we do not have a magic key it will take a lot of different approaches to end HIV.”  
Words from a physician: “I think expansion of new systems is needed. I think the injectables will be useful for HIV people. Injections can be used for prevention and also for treatment. Also including contraception and ART as prevention for women, a population that had previously been left behind in HIV prevention. There are a lot of new things on the horizon. Simplifying the paperwork to get treatment. Don’t forget about the small clinics that can help to prevent HIV in pediatrics and women. Pediatrics is a small percentage (of HIV cases) but its (HIV) a lifelong condition so we want to look to prevent HIV and provide more HIV treatment and HIV prevent.”

Words of Wisdom from a Community Advocate

Reno Moore;  When interviewed Mr. Reno Moore, community advocate and Program Director for CDAT, Community Development and Training, in St Petersburg, FL stated that it would take the “cure” to end the HIV epidemic in Pinellas County. He says, “I think that they (scientist and researchers) should drop the cure. You end it by creating a cure.” Reno says, “You would get a greater response to that than for a vaccination. Because people are not worried about COVID anymore; people are worried about HIV. People would be lined-up (for the cure).” When asked if he thought we would see the end of the HIV epidemic within his lifetime he also stated, “Absolutely, I think it will in my lifetime because I am aware of the plan for 2030. And I think the plan will be accomplished within that time. I remember chicken pox and measle was a thing when I was growing up but by the time, I started having children it was a thing of the past.”  Mr. Moore stated to accomplish this we would need to campaign more. “Campaign, campaign, Campaign.” He said, “(Campaigning is) A push towards awareness. A push towards knowledge of a cure (treatment/prevention) because when people know you are working on it, they will be looking for it.”  One word Reno says comes to mind when considering EHE is “Cure, because it is the ending of the HIV epidemic”.

Words of Wisdom from a Ms. Leisha McKinley-Beach

Ms. Leisha McKinley Beach;  Content will Be Sent