The Beginning of Something Great
Kayla, 21, is a college senior and a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council.
Prior to interviewing for a position on the council I assessed how much I thought I could contribute to HIV/AIDS awareness on my college campus. With no friends or relatives who openly declared they had contracted the disease, I was not sure whether or not I would be right for the position. In my community, comprehensive sex education was not a part of our high school’s curriculum. Our school’s administration invited several speakers to the school preaching abstinence-only and handed out virginity pledge after virginity pledge.
I felt that relaying a message about STI prevention to sexually active young people would be challenging since virginity pledges were all that I knew. After talking to a few of my closest friends about the council, a couple of them disclosed that they were living with an incurable sexually transmitted infection. Their accounts of how they contracted their respective diseases, genital herpes and human papillomavirus, and how they were coping, persuaded me all the more to join the fight to stop the spread of STIs. Their reality finally hit home. It was then that I knew I wanted to become a part of the council.
Forming a local council at AAMU, an HBCU, has allowed me to help equip young Black women, like myself, with the knowledge and tools to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS on our campus and in our community. My fellow council members and I believe that with every safe-sex kit we distribute and program we present, we’re helping to protect another Sister from the dangers of unprotected sex. Although the council is a fairly new organization on campus, I am optimistic about its future. I am hoping that the AAMU Young Women of Color Leadership Council will ignite a flame within our Sisters on campus and naturally the flame will spread throughout our community, especially the surrounding high schools.
Since the Young Women of Color Council is in its initial year on our campus, we are looking for a successful jumpstart to the program. Our first outreach to the community was with the Huntsville, Alabama AIDS Coalition through a fundraiser and informative program. It was the first of many activities we have planned for the future.
Upon the end of my tenure with the Young Women of Color Council on my campus, I will remain dedicated to the prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS in my community. This program has opened my eyes to so much and I will continue to help other spread awareness. The fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS does not end with me.