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ASO Training

June 1, 2012

My sister and I recently attended a volunteer training session with a local AIDS Service Organization (ASO). To be honest, before I became positive, I had no idea what an ASO even was! The training was interesting and allowed me to see some of the service areas that the ASO provides in the community. They not only help those infected with HIV/AIDS, but also reach out to the community as a whole. They do so much more than I expected, including a political portion to maintain active within the political aspect of things; a religious portion to reach out to local churches for help and acceptance; an event portion which helps plan events and fundraisers; an outreach portion to educate the community and also a client focused portion, which helps those directly infected/affected with HIV/AIDS.

The training session was particularly uplifting to me to see the amount of people who were learning to be volunteers. There were probably 15-20 people, which I think is awesome (especially considering it was a Thursday evening for 3 hours)!

I must admit, though, as we went around the room introducing ourselves and stating “why” we were there, I froze. I heard several people say that they were there for Peace Corps training, several people with other local organizations, and even several people who were HIV positive and wanted to give back. Obviously that is precisely the reason I was there, yet I couldn’t say that. I simply could not say that I was HIV positive and wanted to help other women infected/affected by this disease. I felt hot, sweaty and my nerves were getting the best of me. All I could say was that I hoped to give back to women, who didn’t seem to have an equal voice in the HIV community.

I felt like this was an opportunity (a fairly safe opportunity at that) to admit my status. Yet, I disappointed myself and could not mention my status. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t disclose to a room full of people who were obviously there to support people with HIV. But I did not….and I need to work on this. Hopefully, as I become more involved with the ASO, I will become more comfortable with disclosure.

  1. June 1, 2012 1:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story and don’t be too hard on yourself for not speaking up. HIV disclosure is different for everyone. I was open about my status from the begining. I know others who have been living with it as long as me (27 years) and they do not talk openly about their status and that is okay. It is very difficult to say “I am positive” to a group of people you don’t know or even to a group of people you do know. I commend you for being willing to volunteer. If and when you want to reveal your status you will know when the time is right. I wish you the best. Take care! -Vickie

  2. L.J. permalink
    June 1, 2012 5:27 pm

    Hi Katie
    well done for taking steps towards volunteer work. I would have felt just the same in the situation you described. Some people feel strongly about their need to disclose and I admire their courage and conviction. I have at times felt like speaking up in the spirit of myth busting but for the time being I choose to protect myself and just tell people I trust, or those who need to know. Would it really help anybody in the group to know your status? Only you can judge how you need to take care of yourself so that you can function happily in life. You go girl, giving of yourself is more than enough. Hugs L.J.

  3. mirriam ojok permalink
    June 2, 2012 3:00 am

    Hello Vickie, thanxs for that wonderful thought to help other women out there in your community. don’t be hard on you self because you couldn’t tell the training team that you are HIV Positive. Your disclosure belief me or not will be when you are already working with the community and it will be simple like taking tea as you interacted with the people in similar situation you have been in; you will find your self encouraging others and telling them your status at the same time. I wish all the best dear and don’t back down because your community is counting on you. love and take care

  4. June 2, 2012 10:08 am

    Absolutley. i agree with Vickie, it is different for everyone. And this event gave you a chance to take your temperature, as it were, about disclosure. You weren’t ready. Its ok. The great thing is that you respected your own boundary. And maybe next time you’ll do something different-or not. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


  5. Tiffany permalink
    June 5, 2012 2:00 pm

    Katie: Thank you for sharing your experience. Like so many others before me I say do not be too hard on yourself disclosure is personal and only you know when it feels right for you. I can assure you by just telling this story right here in this place you have many who read it and know that they are not alone in trying to figure out when and how to disclose even in a fairly safe place.

  6. June 5, 2012 10:23 pm

    Me too, ditto ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  7. June 15, 2012 10:44 am

    be strong

  8. mumbaiyyagal permalink
    June 21, 2012 2:22 am

    Hi Katie,

    U dont have to disclose your status unless you feel comfortable, and not necessary that you have to disclose just coz there are people like us in the room. Listen to your heart and when your mind is ready, it will automatically come. It takes time to gain love, trust and respect from people whom you not know and even the more time to confide ur deepest darkest secret to them. So, take it easy, and everything will be fine in due course of time.

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