World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 every year. People around the world unite in the fight against HIV.
According to Imane Sidibé, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), "Women are a fast growing segment of people living with HIV worldwide. In fact, every minute, one woman is infected by HIV, and globally, 49 percent of all adults living with HIV are women."
Kamaria Laffrey, 32, is part of the fastest growing segment of women diagnosed with HIV. In 2003, Laffrey was diagnosed with HIV and was devastated, as well as unprepared emotionally to handle her diagnosis.
However, more than 10 year later, Laffrey has turned her life around and she has become an advocate for women with HIV.
In a telephone interview, Laffrey said, "I want women with HIV to know that you are not alone and other women are standing with them."
Laffery’s journey took a lot of twists and turns as she tried to navigate coming to terms with her diagnosis, as well as finding a doctor and a support system. With limited knowledge about HIV, she felt painfully alone after her diagnosis.
Laffery didn’t know where to turn or how to communicate her concerns, and even began changing her daily routines in fear that she would spread HIV to her family and loved ones.
By telling her story in conjunction with World AIDS Day, Laffery hopes to empower other women, especially since the disease carries many stigmas. She also hopes to highlight the "See Us: Women Take a Stand on HIV" campaign.
The campaign is focused on helping to address unique challenges for women with HIV. Laffery along with other HIV advocates helped to create dialogue tools on the www.IAPAC.org/seeus website.
The dialogue tools are in an infographic style format and are meant as a resource to outline what important conversations women should have with their doctors once being diagnosed with HIV. These tools are what Laffery wished she'd had after she was diagnosed, to guide her through that scary, vulnerable time.