SIT Graduate Institute alum Carlton Rounds is the founder of Volunteer Positive, an organization that empowers people living with and affected by HIV to be engaged global citizens by creating service opportunities through partnerships both domestically and abroad.
In 2005, while managing a human rights program, I found out I was HIV positive a few weeks before traveling from New York to South Africa. At first, my sense of being limited by HIV laws banning travel was not foremost in my mind, however, since then I have learned some hard lessons concerning my freedom and my rights. I am no longer comfortable being silent.
In the spirit of the UNAIDS GIPA Principle (Greater Involvement of People with AIDS), I have launched Volunteer Positive, the first international volunteer service organization for people living with or affected by HIV. Volunteer Positive increases the chance for those living with HIV to be recognized and valued through international soft diplomacy and service.
Having worked in international education and service for more than 25 years, the absence of visible HIV+ leaders in my professional field has been deeply troubling. In addition, there have been oppressive obstacles hurtful to the spirit of the HIV community. Three years ago, the Peace Corps was sued by the ACLU for HIV discrimination and lost its case. The dismissed HIV+volunteer’s confrontation of the Peace Corps policy helped me find my voice and contributed to the launching of Volunteer Positive. He now serves on my board.
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