Today is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, an annual observance that takes place on April 10 to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people and to highlight the work young people are doing across the country to respond to the epidemic.
Today, the National AIDS Memorial shares a statement by Nestor Josue Rogel, recipient of our Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship, which supports and spotlights the work of emerging young leaders who are active in the fight against HIV/AIDS on their campuses and in their communities.
“Being born HIV-positive has taken me through some trials and tribulations that have inspired me to protect the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS so they will not have to face the anguish I went through. I watched my mother slowly succumb to the virus for three months as she wilted away and thought, “Dear God, is this what I have to look forward to? Is this my only future?”
After some soul searching, I joined the Student Global AIDS Campaign and have traveled all over the U.S. on legislative visits to increase funding for the Presidential Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and fight against trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would give pharmaceutical companies too much power over patents.
Another leadership role I have taken is with the Center for Disease Control on their HIV is Not A Crime (HINAC) event to learn how to protect my community from unfair and outdated stereotypes that have caused unjust imprisonments. My involvements led to being recognized with the South Bay AIDS Network Hero Award as well as being featured in We’re Still Here, a film of others who were born HIV-positive and the sharing of their life experiences.
I have worked tirelessly to leave this world better than I came into it. My efforts are a matter of responsibility to my deceased mother and to the future generation who will breathe easy knowing that the epidemic has ended.”
—Nestor Josue Rogel, Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship Recipient
For more information about the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship: http://www.aidsmemorial.org/events/pedro-zamora-young-leaders-scholarship