Mattee Jim - Light That Spark
Sitting in the corner, by the stove, he told me he was living with HIV. He ignited a spark in me that I was unaware of for a couple of years until I became sober. I had time on my hands and needed to do something, I got involved. I started doing outreach by handing out condoms and giving out brochures on HIV.
Who knew, I would still be involved in educating, informing, and discussing HIV with so many people. I was asked to be a part of the Circle of Harmony planning committee several years ago, this opportunity has been a blessing and encouraging. COH happens every other year, bringing together people from all over the country to discuss, inform, educate, promote, and empower our Native/Indigenous communities. The planning committee has made this conference a safe place to be, especially for our Native Transgender populations. Transgender people have been advocating for several decades now and have made several gains in visibility and have a voice at the table. Unfortunately, most recently, our advancements for our Transgender community has been under attack with the attempts to tearing down the walls we built to keep out transphobia and discrimination. HIV in the Transgender community is a topic less discussed due to the lower numbers and difficulties with data collection. Over the years there have been encouraging attempts to include and collect proper data for Transgender people. There have also been formations of national groups that give Voice and Visibility to those who are living with HIV.
Throughout the many years of prevention work I’ve seen the changes that are occurring. The U=U campaign that is informing people that if you continue to take care of yourself and maintain an undetectable level of the virus that you can’t transmit HIV. Or taking a pill, Truvada, can prevent HIV transmission if taken consistently. The advancements have come a long way and we are still fighting a fight we want to win, a win that will put me out of a job.
Circle of Harmony gives the latest information around HIV/ STI/ HEP C and programs that come and are for Native/Indigenous communities.
Like that spark that was ignited in me years ago....Register, Attend, and Get Involved!