Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Journey to the International AIDS Conference 2012

Even as I write this I have so many emotions that are running through my body. Words cannot capture how I am feeling however I must try. As I pack my Jetta with luggage and electronic gear there is a sense that where I am headed is truly historic. I have said it many times this past week but I truly feel as if this is what activist and advocate must have felt like during the civil rights movement when they would board buses and make the intensive trip to Washington, DC.

Yes, I will be in a car for almost fifteen hours but at the very core of who I am I know that it is where I belong. I will be meeting up with Cyber-Activist and peers within the HIV/AIDS community that up to now were merely voices and email addresses. As with everything else in my journey with HIV I am going to document this because I know that it is historic and something that I will tell my children, "I was there."

My voice as an activist and advocate might only be heard by a few however in DC it will be united with tens of thousands of other people and together the world will see us. Whether it is marching on the capital or meeting with people in the Global Village there is one commonality, HIV/AIDS. I have made a sign that I am proudly going to carry. It is an AIDS ribbon on one side and on the other side it reads, "I am HIV +".

I friendships that I am going to make over the next week will most likely be like no other friendships. Myself and rest of the HashtagHIV team are going to be tweeting and doing various shows each day. WOW who would have thought that over two decades ago that the access of knowledge at one conference would so easily be able to navigate to the furthest points of the globe.

My hope is that through this conference attention will once again be directed to HIV/AIDS and those that are living with HIV/AIDS. I hope that the world will see that there is still stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS however we refuse to be silenced and we will be heard! As I make this trip to Washington and I see things such as the AIDS Quilt I do so knowing that the names on the Quilt symbolize a life that was lost to a virus that I have in my body. As I make this trip to the International AIDS Conference I remember that fact that many of my brothers and sisters in the HIV/AIDS community who fought the hardest are no longer with us and it is now my fight!

I am excited. I am excited to share information with activist and dvocate from around the world. Without doubt I am forever going to be changed from this journey that I am on.

Aaron Laxton

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