During the past 25 years, I have traveled to various parts of the globe and have seen first hand the devastating effects of HIV on many diverse communities. Understanding the implications of living with HIV has been a profound learning experience, since testing positive in 2005. HIV has pushed my buttons and helped me appreciate the power of vulnerability, specifically my own and of those less privileged. Being connected to a global experience of stigma and marginalization has been a challenge yet it serves to connect me to a shared reality that goes beyond national boundaries, ethnic identities, sexual orientation, class, gender, race, and creed.
HIV Survivors are a growing demographic who a decade ago may have been too sick to travel, but happily are now back at work, or considering future work, going back to school, reconnecting to their passions, reinventing themselves and thriving. They are great volunteers. We believe that everyone is HIV affected whether or not they are infected with the virus. In a sense, we are all HIV positive. Anyone with a willingness and ability to serve is welcomed. Volunteer Positive works with each volunteer to create a plan that can support their experience. This plan includes travel advice, medical support while in country, and an environment that respects limitations.
If you are HIV+ and want to volunteer abroad there are many ways to plan ahead for a successful and healthy experience. Volunteer Positive staff works with you though the preparation process to plan for your experience. It is also your responsibility to work with your personal physician in assessing whether or not you are healthy enough to travel and to serve. If you are medically stable and have been on a predictable medical protocol or regimen without the need for major adjustments during the past six months this is a sign that you might be able to travel safely. No one factor can assess a person’s health so each individual needs to be managed on an individual basis.