From Mechelle Jones’s experiences, both as a person living with HIV and an HIV services provider, she offers these tips for learning how to advocate for yourself.

Speak Up
You deserve a good life, and that includes safe housing, good nutrition, help with childcare and finances and freedom from discrimination. All of these things, plus many more, are available, but you may have to ask for them.

Open Up
Build a relationship with your case manager. Talk about what you find challenging and what you need to stay healthy. Managers can’t help you solve a problem they don’t know about.

Get Support
Living with HIV holds many challenges, and other HIV-positive people can be very understanding and helpful. A support group can help you stay sober or adherent to your meds.

Build Trust
Once you believe in yourself, others will believe in you. This will build trust and confidence. In turn, you will be able to ask for and get the resources you need. If you require therapy to get to that place, ask for it. It’s just one of the services you deserve. 

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