Earlier this month, I shared my sentiments in “How #DoingIt Can Save Your Life“. I am such a huge advocate for understanding your body, your health and knowing your options should any test come back less than stellar and spectacular. My passion led me to partner with the CDC as an influencer to add a booming voice to those around to understand the importance of knowing your status. Today, I have the honor and privilege to add an extra layer to that voice!
Today’s Hustle, Honey! is an international powerhouse speaker and ESSENCE Magazine’s Senior Editor for Lifestyle & Relationships & CDC’s “Doing It” Ambassador, Charreah Jackson. She’s sharing her brilliant thoughts about why she’s passionate about “Doing It”, how to reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS, and her advice to young women or men who have recently been diagnosed with HIV.
LG of BB: Charreah, I’m so excited to meet with you! You have such a strong platform and passion for HIV/AIDS awareness. Tell us a little about your platform & your ultimate goal you hope to achieve.
CJ of Essence Magazine: HIV/AIDS is a preventable condition that disproportionately impact women who look like me, Black women. As the Senior Editor at ESSENCE, it has been an honor to continue the great work the brand has done in educating and empowering millions of women. I also am a board member with the Red Pump Project where we raise awareness on HIV/AIDS for women and girls.
LG of B: Why is “Doing It” so important to you?
CJ of Essence Magazine: I am a cancer survivor and know the realities of facing a disease that was out of your control. Doing it by getting tested is important because it informs you of your health. And if you are fortunate to be negative, you can 100% stay that way through prevention.
LG of BB:The landscape of understanding the HIV/AIDS epidemic has vastly changed since the early 1980’s. Even with all the advancement in technology and medicine, tell us why you feel understanding HIV/AIDS is just as important now as it was 30 years ago.
CJ of Essence Magazine: The progress in treatment and to destigmatize the epidemic has been great. Last year was a hallmark in New York City as the first year in decades there were no babies born positive. We still have to remain smart and vigilant. Just because people know more, doesn’t mean our work is over. Until new transmissions stop, we have more work to do.
I am a cancer survivor and know the realities of facing a disease that was out of your control. Doing it by getting tested is important because it informs you of your health.
LG of BB: Getting tested for HIV is no easy walk in the park! It can be terrifying & you can easily talk yourself out of doing it. What would you say to that girl or guy who knows they may need to get tested, but find themselves too scared to go?
CJ of Essence Magazine: Know that your body already knows your status even if you don’t. If you’re positive, you can remain a high quality of life with treatment. Knowing your status can extend your quality of life no matter the outcome.
LG of BB: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about contracting HIV/AIDS?
CJ of Essence Magazine: That “certain” people are prone. Anyone having unprotected sex is at risk. College Degrees, pedigree, marital status, gender or orientation does not negate your risk. Stay empowered and informed. You get one body in this life.
LG of BB: What’s your advice to young women or men who have recently been diagnosed with HIV?
CJ of Essence Magazine: Touch your heart. It is still beating. You are still here and your life is valuable and has purpose. You are not a diagnosis.
LG of BB:What steps can we take to reduce the stigma around HIV/AIDS?
CJ of Essence Magazine: Share your story of how your life has been impacted. Post about getting tested.
LG of BB: According to the CDC, 22% of all new HIV diagnoses were among youth ages 13-24 in 2015. What are we not doing as a community to ensure our children understand and are prepared for this type of epidemic if they’re not careful?
CJ of Essence Magazine: We still aren’t having honest conversations with young people around sex and giving them safe spaces to learn and ask questions. That makes them experiment in private and not be safe or informed. Talk to the young people in your life. Be open and vulnerable. I talk about my sex decisions to my younger sister and cousins so they feel comfortable to ask me questions if and when they need to.
LG of BB: Where can our readers find you?
CJ of Essence Magazine: @charreah | bossbride.com
LG of BB: I see you girl. Keep hustlin’.