My Story

Alison Goldstein

In the mid-80's, our household-- like every household in America-- got a pamphlet in the mail from the Surgeon General at the time about AIDS. I remember feeling heavy-hearted about it. Not really knowing what it all meant or would mean. I was in high school at the time. I worked with one of my teachers to raise awareness in our school. I talked to my friends and even my parents, who were single and dating, about condoms and HIV. Most people thought it didn't apply to them. Some were scared. Many were ill-informed. In college, I volunteered doing HIV/AIDS prevention and care work. I made deep connections and friendships with people who cared that others were dying, many of whom were living with or affected by HIV. I had my first personal loss from HIV in 1994. This would be the beginning of many, many more. To deal with my grief, I began a ritual of placing a small, folded post-it note with the person's name in a glass jar. I hoped it would help me to remember, to keep their spirits alive in my heart. Eventually, I stopped putting the paper in the jar, after it filled to the brim. Over time, the ritual felt futile; however, my purpose still felt clear. I needed to continue building awareness and supporting people living with HIV. It has been quite some time since that AIDS brochure came in my mailbox. I have now spent most of my adult life working in HIV prevention and care. All of the people I know, and have known, with HIV are warriors. Each day a battle against things often bigger than the HIV itself, like stigma, homophobia, racism, and poverty. I feel grateful for my warrior teachers. I still feel purpose. I still have hope. Alison G.