Last year, I met Josh Robbins at HealtheVoices 2016. This was an amazing time where Jansen brought advocates from various mental and physical health areas together to collaborate and network. Even though Josh and HIV and I have Type 2 diabetes, we found that we had a lot in common. Both conditions deal with a lot of stigma and misinformation. I consider myself an educated woman, but that weekend I learned so much about HIV and changed my views about so much.
I was a teen in the 1980s, when the HIV scare was high. The media and uneducated people spread so much misinformation that I thought was true. Twenty years later, Josh and other HIV advocates have set me straight with loving, caring words meant to enlighten and not condemn. I learned even more during HealtheVoices 2017.
The desire to educate along with my desire to be educated helped to form some pretty tight friendships. Those who I have gotten to know have not just become connections that I can refer friends to; they have become my friends as well.
Recently Josh presented at TedX in Nashville, talking about the importance of social media as a means of support. During his presentation, he mentioned some advocates from areas outside HIV. I was honored to be the diabetes advocate that he mentioned. Even though he couldn't pronounce my last name (RARE-ick-ah), the gesture was not taken lightly. I am honored and humbled to have been mentioned by Josh, an amazing man, advocate, and friend. Thank you, Josh!
Disclaimer: Janssen Global Services paid for my travel expenses for the conference. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.