‘PLUS+ Me’ Aims to Erase Stigma of HIV/AIDS, Share Awareness
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CHANGING THE FACE OF HIV/AIDS: ‘PLUS+ ME’ AIMS TO ERASE STIGMA, SHARE AWARENESS
New PLUS+ Me initiative crafts community leaders, shares education and awareness
TAMPA, FL – PLUS+ Me has launched a new initiative dedicated to changing the stigma associated with individuals living with HIV/AIDS. A press conference to preview the initiative will take place at 10:30AM on Friday, September 27, 2019 and will be held at The Edge Hotel Clearwater Beach, 526 S. Gulfview Boulevard, Clearwater Beach, FL 33733.
Funded by the Southern AIDS Coalition through the Gilead Compass Initiative, PLUS+ Me presents an open dialogue on the subject and provides educational support to make an impact. The mission is focused on three core areas – creating opportunities for education through outreach, reducing the infection rate, and crafting new community leaders.
“PLUS+ Me is a great way for a person living with HIV to become self-sufficient and better able to contribute back into our community,” says Charles Ware, Outreach Specialist for PLUS+ Me.
With Southwest Florida having a concentration of persons living with HIV in 18 of the area’s top zip codes, PLUS+ Me’s goal is to change the narrative surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Participants of PLUS+ Me attend weekly training courses inclusive of storytelling, entrepreneurial development, and community relations. The first group of PLUS+ Me Ambassadors will graduate in November having “real-world experience with advocacy and the skills to serve as leaders and trusted sources of information within their community,” says Ware.
“PLUS+ Me encourages us all to support successful individual development,” says Ware.
A master quilt maker is currently crafting a Quilt of Resilience, signifying it as a sign of endurance for those living with HIV/AIDS – a bold statement that the diagnosis does not represent a death sentence. “We’re focused on life beyond diagnosis,” says Ware. The Quilt of Resilience is collaborative participant expression of art inspired by their stories and experiences of living with HIV. The Quilt of Resilience is scheduled for public release and viewing at the culmination of the program.
As a part of the growing initiative, PLUS+ Me has partnered with the Southern AIDS Coalition’s LEAD Academy on a 3-day interactive training workshop September 27th – 29th focused on leadership, education, and advocacy development. Interested individuals may register at bit.ly/SACPM and choose ‘TPAN’.
“We want to do something about not only reducing the stigma but continuing to be a catalyst for reducing the rate – by providing awareness, testing and an open door of transparency for members of our community,” says Derrick Blue, THAPgroup CEO.
About PLUS+ Me
PLUS+ Me is a stigma reduction program of THAPgroup, partner of the Gilead Compass Initiative dedicated to reducing the HIV-related stigma in the south. Facebook.com/plusmeinitiative
The mission of the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan, Inc. (THAPgroup) is to offer solutions that build social equity by awakening a sense of dignity within Southwest Florida residents who face educational, health, housing, and economic challenges. www.thapgroup.org