Caressa Cameron-Jackson Speaks on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Panel Discussion at Hampton University

By Natasha Abrams, Senior Sports Management Major at Hampton University Journalist, Gamma Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

On Thursday February 7, 2013 the Gamma Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (DST) Inc. helped support the fight against HIV/AIDS during a panel discussion featuring Miss America 2010, Mrs. Caressa Cameron-Jackson. Mrs. Cameron-Jackson shared her story of how HIV/AIDS had such a large impact on her life at such a young age.

When she was just a little girl, her uncle was diagnosed with HIV. “He was an African American gay man,” Caressa said. “He eventually stopped taking his medicine and died”. Her uncle’s death encouraged her to want to educate the world about HIV/AIDS because her uncle’s death could have been prevented if others had taken the time to increase their knowledge of the infection. “He [Caressa’s uncle] chose to stop taking his medicine because of the stigma in my family. No one wanted to talk about the fact that my uncle was gay with AIDS nor did they want to do anything to help. He already felt defeated before he could start his fight”.

Mrs. Cameron-Jackson is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer for AIDS United and loves what she does. The Hampton community welcomed her with open arms and was greatly impacted by her knowledge. The Gamma Iota Chapter of DST would like to thank Mrs. Cameron-Jackson and her team for helping to make National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day a success.

Since National Black AIDS Awareness Day fell during Delta Week at Hampton University, we wanted to provide information about HIV/AIDS to the student population and the broader Hampton community to educate them about the impact HIV is having on the African American community. We felt it was important to remind students that you must know your status and practice safer sex. We also wanted to provide an opportunity to get an HIV test onsite.

Professor Carrion (Pharmacy Department) spoke candidly HIV about HIV medications and the real life impact HIV medication has on his clients. He also shared the impact that HIV has had on his family. His aunt was HIV positive and experienced stigma in the family as well as in the community.

Sandra Baker decided to mark National Black AIDS Awareness Day by speaking publically for the first time about her HIV status. Positive for the past eight years, Ms. Baker wanted the Hampton community to know the importance of knowing their HIV status so that transmission can be prevented. She explained that you can still have relationships as an HIV positive person, but you must care for yourself and your partners. She explained she is married, has four children and all of them remain HIV negative.