PERY is our HIV Positive Speakers Bureau. We provide HIV positive educators to schools and youth facilities to talk about the impact HIV has had on their lives. It serves to make the experience of living with HIV far more real than any lecture could. It also gives students a chance to hear the story of someone who has faced a whole variety of serious challenges in their life – very often HIV infection is only one of a number of issues faced by our speakers – and made the choices necessary to take control of their lives in a
very positive way.
The speakers discuss what their lives were like before they were diagnosed with HIV, what it was like to be diagnosed, and what their lives have been like since diagnosis. Some of our speakers have had overwhelming health problems, and so bring a message of perseverance against seemingly insurmountable odds. Some have struggled with addiction, and so speak of recovery and hope – an educator must be clean and sober for over a year to participate in the program. Some have become infected with the virus thorough their own choices, and some by circumstances, but all of our PERY speakers are able to discuss how their own choices affected them and how the students can make efforts to keep themselves safe.
After each program, we give students an opportunity to write response letters to our speakers. The letters received by speakers are more powerful than you could ever imagine. Letter after letter declares that the student is inspired to take care of themselves, to make good decisions, to give up drugs or to never try them, to avoid unsafe sex, to overcome hardships as the speakers have fought to overcome their own, and to have compassion for HIV positive people, rather than be judgmental.
If you are interested in scheduling a PERY speaker, or a panel, please contact Megara at Megara@PartnersInSexEducation.org, 617-320-6167.