Teens Empowering Message on HIV

This BLOG was written by Isabel, a nurse at the John T. Carey SIU in Cleveland Ohio.

I am a nurse at the John T. Carey Special Immunology Unit (SIU) in Cleveland, Ohio. The SIU is a clinic that helps treat and care for those who are infected with HIV/AIDS, regardless of the ability to pay for services. We have over one thousand patients that are treated in our clinic.

I am a clinic nurse for adults, pediatrics and OB/GYN. However, I also am part of an outreach group in our clinic. One of my jobs is to hold groups for women and youth. Our youth group is for those ages 18 years to 24 years. In our group, we have those that were vertically infected with HIV from their mothers when they were born and those that were infected through sexual contact. When we get together, sometimes we discuss life skills, relationships, and disclosure of the illness to family, friends, significant others.

Because of the nature of the illness, and due to the ignorance of others, it is very difficult for those who are infected with HIV to disclose their illness to others. However, we recently had four members of our youth group talk to high school students in the inner city about their disease and share their stories.

It took a lot of coaxing (borderline begging), this group to consider being on a panel and disclosing their HIV statuses and their stories to strangers their own age. It was difficult enough for them to disclose to their family members. Imagine how nervous and afraid they were.The talk went very well. It was very emotional for the four panelists as well as for the audience. Their stories made us laugh and cry. At the end I gave each one a bracelet that had the word “STRONG” to define each of their characters and the courage it took for them to talk to this particular high school group.

The John T. Carey Special Immunology Unit (SIU) was established in 1985 to address the growing need in our community for primary medical care for persons with HIV infection. 

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