Top Ten Things Children With AIDS Want You To Know

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Thousands of children in the U.S. are affected by HIV/AIDS, and because of a lack of information and awareness, face unjustifiable pain and suffering. In preparation for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Camp Heartland asked AIDS-impacted youth to share "what they want the world to know" about HIV/AIDS. They offer these top 10 reminders of hope, prevention and compassion.

As HIV/AIDS is often still cloaked in secrecy, it is hard to imagine what life is like for a child affected by the disease, and yet there are thousands of them throughout the United States and over 2.5 million worldwide. Lack of information and awareness makes many people treat these children as bad, dangerous, and someone to be avoided. This, in turn leads to terrible discrimination, loneliness, and unjustifiable pain and suffering.

Since 1993, the national non-profit organization Camp Heartland has made a profound year-round and life long difference for more than 2,000 children living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. In preparation for World AIDS Day on December 1, 2005 Camp Heartland leadership asked some of these children to share “what they want the world to know.” Camp Heartland’s children offer these “Top Ten” reminders of hope, prevention and compassion:

1.     “You can’t just catch HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), like if it was a cold or the flu…it’s something you get from mixing your blood with someone else’s, having unprotected sex, or from your mom when you were born, like me. ” – Deah, age 10

2.     “AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is what you have when there is too much HIV in your body and your immune system can’t keep up and you get sick and it’s really hard to get better.” - Dillon, age 15

3.     Be a friend. You cannot contract HIV through casual contact. “You can’t get it from hugging, kissing, showing some love, or touching somebody. Don’t be afraid, be a friend. ”- Latoya, age 12

4.    Do not give up if you have AIDS. “I may have AIDS, but I am determined to live my life without worrying about dying.” - Matthew, age 11

5.    Get tested. Know your status. “If you don’t know if you have HIV, you can’t help stop this disease or keep yourself healthy.” - Lupe, age 21

6.    Stay healthy. There is no cure for AIDS. Treatments for HIV and AIDS are expensive, time consuming and can have unpleasant side effects. “You don’t want to get this disease - it’s no fun. I hate having to take 18 to 20 pills a day and having to get needles stuck in me every three weeks.” - Augie, age 12

7.    Show compassion. “Don’t try to be all icky about other people and try to make them feel bad. People with AIDS, they’re regular people. They have feelings, too.” - Brandon, age 13

8.    Think globally. “Sometimes I really hate taking meds, but there are people all over the world that don’t have them…so I take mine. We need to help people everywhere because we’re all the same.” - Kaitlyn, age 11

9.    Communicate the truth. “We have to talk to our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our parents, our friends, our churches, our schools…and our boyfriends or girlfriends. We can’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about staying healthy and staying alive.” - Shakia, age 23

10.    “Think positive, stay negative.” - Stephanie, age 9

These and other messages can be found in Camp Heartland’s new book. A Journey of Hope- Inspiring Stories of Courage and Unconditional Love featuring the writings, poems, stories and speeches of Camp Heartland’s children. More than 100 color and 12 black and white photographs of these children by Katja Heinemann dramatically enhance the impact of their words. One hundred percent of the book’s proceeds directly support Camp Heartland’s programs and services for children with HIV/AIDS. The book is available for $22.95 at http://www.campheartland.org, http://www.amazon.com, and at bookstores nationwide.

For more information on Camp Heartland’s programming, services, and the Journey of Hope AIDS Awareness Program that brings Camp Heartland youth to your community to share their experiences living with HIV/AIDS, please visit http://www.campheartland.org or call 1-800-724 HOPE.

Interview opportunities are available with Neil Willenson, Founder & CEO of Camp Heartland and author of A Journey of Hope – Inspiring Stories of Courage and Unconditional Love. To interview Willenson and/or children from Camp Heartland contact: 414/272-1118#21.

Cover Image of Book is Available for Your Usage. Contact Neil Willenson for a high resolution image.

Contact: Neil Willenson

Founder & CEO

414-272-1118 #21

414-350-4083

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