Speakers Bureau

The voice said: "...we need your help, my 22 year old daughter tested positive for HIV yesterday. We need to talk to someone besides Doctors. Please call me back." This was not my voice... it was however my voicemail, making it my message to return.

My mind moved quickly through the known facts: Daughter, 22, San Carlos phone number, positive. My heart was racing. I have a son 23 and a daughter 21. 1 live in Belmont. This could be me. I was punching in the call back numbers as fast as my fingers could bring up a new line. The mom to mom connection was established in my mind before I heard her voice on the return call.

"Yes, ELLIPSE has been supporting the HIV community in San Mateo County for 20 years. Tell me how I can help you." Mom's voice broke with suppressed tears... and by the end of the conversation that morning in July of 2006 she told me she felt better, and was going to go shower, eat breakfast, and be strong for her daughter.

As a Case Manager and Executive Director for ELLIPSE HIV Support Services in San Mateo I'm available to speak to your school, church or community clubs.

In 2005 1 was invited to speak to the student body at a San Mateo County all girl's High School in Burlingame... I remember their giggles when I told them that most of them would at some point in their lives become sexually active. I paused for their laughter. Then I told them what I came there for. I told them to "get comfortable with condoms". The laughter was uncontrollable for longer than I had anticipated. Once I thought my voice had a chance of being heard over the twittering nervous laughter I interjected: ... Get comfortable with condoms NOW ... because when the time in your life arrives that you need to use one, you might be a little distracted or even nervous.

For some families abstinence is the message. If this was your choice before marriage, it might be the option your children choose also. I remember worrying that the staff (the Nuns at this Catholic Girls School) might be offended when I told the girls to have a condom party ... with their mothers, aunts or girl friends. Have a condom party - touch them, blow them up fill them with water, toss them, roll them down a banana ... read the directions - yes there are directions!

I believe this needs to be our advance message to our children: To get comfortable with condoms - before they need to use one.

New HIV infection rates across the nation are, for the 4th year in a row, on the rise. More than 40,000 people tested positive for HIV in the USA last year. More than half were under the age of 24.

Speaker: Lynne Fitzgerald, Executive Director
ELLIPSE - HIV Support Services - San Mateo
CONTACT: 650-572-9702 or lynne@ellipse650.org

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