By: Brittani Menina
It’s National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)!
For 15 years now, NBHAAD has committed to building a national HIV testing and treatment initiative accelerated by educating, promoting testing and treatment, and increasing involvement within Black communities. This year’s theme I Am My Brother/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS, prompts Black communities to unite and care for one another regardless of lifestyle or HIV status.
Join us as we celebrate NBHAAD this year by sharing the story of Tiffany Young, a successful Red Pump Rocker who accomplished making June 21 officially Red Pump Day with a proclamation from Former D.C. Mayor, Vincent C. Gray.
In between managing public relations initiatives for the American Public University System and being an awesome Red Pump Rocker, Tiffany is a successful 32-year-old woman of all trades. She has received several honors for her philanthropic work from the EnVest Foundation and the Best PR Team Award from the Education Management Corporation. To give you a closer look into Tiffany’s life as an HIV/AIDS activist and what NBHAAD truly means to her, read more below!
Red Pump: What is your personal connection to HIV/AIDS?
Tiffany: My personal connection to HIV/AIDS is that I saw what it does to African American families’ first-hand. Several members of my family have passed who were living with AIDS.
Red Pump: Do you know of someone who was afraid to disclose their positive status?
Tiffany: I think the members in my family were afraid to disclose their positive status, especially the women.
Red Pump: Your dad is a huge part of your life and story. What resources have you received to cope, empower or encourage others about HIV/AIDS?
Tiffany: When I was taking care of my father who was (living with the disease), I turned to his case worker for information and guidance. His doctors were very encouraging as well to remind me how much I was saving my Dad’s life by the day. Unfortunately, my Dad passed in 2013 and to cope and deal with his death, I turned to The Red Pump Project for the comfort.
Red Pump: Do you use social media or blogging to share your message? How have your followers/social community respond to your story?
Tiffany: Yes. A lot of people never knew my Dad and they never knew I was caring for him. Then when I tell them how he died. They look so sad like they are going to cry. But, I tell them I’m at peace and I took care of my Dad and that means a lot. They think I’m some type of superwomen lol.
Red Pump: Why is it important for women to speak openly about HIV and the issues that surround the condition?
Tiffany: It’s important because women are the most powerful humans on this earth. We speak with compassion and conviction that its important that we stress how this disease is tearing families apart or keeping them together.
Red Pump: What do you believe is the biggest challenge for women living with HIV? How do you believe they overcome those challenges?
Tiffany: I am not a woman living with AIDS, but I knew woman who lived with AIDS. I know women who live with the condition so I understand their struggle. The challenge I think they carry is trying to get people to see beyond the disease.
Red Pump: What actions have you taken to fight the stigma against HIV/AIDS?
Tiffany: The actions I have taken are to tell the stories of the people in my family who had normal lives. None of them contracted the virus via drug use. So, I promote safe sex and encourage regular testing.
Red Pump: Do you believe stigma exists towards people living with HIV/AIDS?
Tiffany: Yes, I believe so. I saw it when I would take my Dad to his doctor’s appointment at the health clinic. Everyone in the room were getting treated for their HIV and I switched him over to a new facility because I did not want people judging him. The stigma is “you’re a bad person or a person who doesn’t take care of themselves” and that is not true.
Red Pump: What do you want women to take away from your story?
Tiffany: I want women to feel empowered and not afraid. To not judge people especially their family and friends.
Red Pump: Is there an HIV/AIDS activist you admire? If so, what are some activities they have done that made you say, “Wow, I love their work?”
Tiffany: Rae Lewis Thornton. Her Instagram photos are powerful. She keeps it real about what drugs she has to take and her body changes. Her Essence article in the 90’s shocked the world.
Red Pump: What do you envision for your future?
Tiffany: I want to be more engaged on the local level finding resources for families of those who care for their loved ones living with the disease.
Red Pump: Why do you #RocktheRedPump?
Tiffany: I Rock the Red Pump because I’m a woman. I’m a woman who cares. A woman who has a heart. A woman who has a voice and two feet.
Brittani Menina is the national Ambassador Coordinator (as well as leading all D.C. efforts) for The Red Pump Project. Click here to learn more about Brittani’s experience and background.
“Red Pump Stories” is an initiative created to document the narratives, struggles, and successes of women living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Our new initiative will further the mission of decreasing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and allow us to stand with women who have experienced first-hand the impact of this condition. Join us in celebrating the launch of Red Pump Stories by reading our series of profiled women, commenting or sharing your words of support.