Hey kids! It’s Before & After Friday! 😎 Let’s start the weekend knowing that more is more📈 Vacant listing photos are not your friend. Check out the transformation on this beautiful condo space in Saint Paul!
This week we’re profiling Mama Cree herself, who is sharing some truth and inspiration. You’re the best, Cree! .
How long have you been at YAP?
I’ve been here eight months.
What brought you to HIV work?
In 2005, I arrived in Eugene, OR, as a homeless youth and sex worker. I found a drop-in center that partnered with an organization offering $10 incentives for HIV testing. I got tested because it was my 20th birthday, and I wanted to buy a happy meal and a Reese’s to celebrate. The test came back positive, and I just kind of went numb. I wasn’t surprised. I had slept with HIV positive men when I was a sex worker, and as a homeless kid I figured I was at risk. After 3 days of crying I was like, “child you are a cute kid, and all this crying is not cute.” That was the only HIV test I ever needed.
I had a ton of questions, so I went to the AIDS-service organization every day for like 3 weeks to learn about HIV. They told me to start volunteering there, because I would learn all the answers from the volunteer training. I did outreach with them, but I really found my niche in education. We see a lot of young people of color doing HIV work now but it was kind of unusual then. I decided to use my identities to educate the communities I was a part of.
What keeps you doing this work?
I stay in this work because I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. It still disproportionately affects black people. People of color are still dying of AIDS-related complications, and they don’t have to be. We’re not doing the work in a way that culturally makes sense for us. We’re not taking into account the other factors and social determinants of health around why black people are getting HIV, why they don’t have the same viral suppression, why they get HIV at disproportionate rates. I will continue to use my voice until all communities have the tools they need to get to zero new infections, achieve viral suppression, and not die of AIDS-related complications. I’m also inspired by the young people young people around me, and their passion to influence and change the world to make it better for everyone. . #hiv#instagay#yapmn#minneapolis