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Chronic Illness: Ending the Shame & Stigma

January 5, 2021 @ 6:00 pm 7:30 pm

Disability justice means ending the shame and stigma around chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Type 2 Diabetes

Join 4 organizers for a virtual panel on ending the shame around highly stigmatized chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Type 2 Diabetes. We will discuss dismantling misconceptions and building social justice movements that support and uplift people with highly stigmatized chronic illnesses. Much of the stigma behind chronic illness is rooted in white supremacy, homophobia, classism, fatphobia, and other systems of oppression. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Type 2 Diabetes are often falsely seen as resulting from so-called “bad choices.” It does not matter how someone contracted an illness: they deserve kind, quality medical care, access to medications, and a happy life free of stigma and judgment. Removing morality from health is very important for building strong movements for disability justice and advocacy that value all minds and bodies.

About the panelists:

Lisa Lee has worked in the healthcare field since 2004 in a variety of positions ranging from bodywork, medical billing, case management, housing programs, assertive community treatment (ACT) case management for people experiencing homelessness, drug and alcohol counseling, and is a certified peer recovery support specialist. She completed a Master of Arts in Anthropology (with a focus on medical anthropology) at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her graduate research focused on the ways in which harm reduction as a counter discourse helped to frame and maintain the radically inclusive social space of a local syringe services program for people marginalized and excluded elsewhere. She is currently a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) student at Walden University. She has been in recovery from heroin addiction, mental health, sex work, and homelessness since February 2002 and credits methadone patient and harm reduction as essential elements on her path. She is passionate about peer recovery, overdose prevention, harm reduction, and helping others achieve their full potential of living a purposeful life. She helped to create Wellness Services (behavioral health, peer recovery support services, and case management) at The Life Change Center where she also established peer led mobile outreach teams, she was also the Program Director at a recovery community organization (RCO) with a mobile team that went into emergency department, the jail, and encampments offering naloxone and recovery supports. She currently works as a part-time research assistant with Dr. Karla Wagner, homeschools her son, does harm reduction outreach in her community, and is working with Trac-B Exchange on creating statewide harm reduction programming. She serves on the Nevada peer certification advisory committee, and the peer curriculum committee and is the chair of the Nevada Interagency Council on Homelessness to Housing. She founded and continues to run a writing group, Voices of Inspiration, Courage, and Empowerment (VOICE) for people experiencing or recovering from homelessness. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, traveling, hiking, playing music, performance art, and being a wife and mom. Image description: A headshot of Lisa who is giving a thumbs-up. She is wearing an orange t-shirt with the blue and white staff of Hermes. Captioned around the symbol are the words, “I narcanned your honor student.”

Juan Miguel Rivera Is a Latino/Hispanic Born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Juan Miguel went to school in his early years in Puerto Rico where he graduated High School. In those early years Juan Miguel was raised by a single mother who was always looking for a better life for herself and her 3 children Juan Miguel being the oldest of them. In Puerto Rico Juan Miguel gravitated to radical sports like Surfing ,Skating ,BMX and Heavy Metal and Reggae with his friends. He started experimenting with the typical teenager stuff like sex ,marihuana and cocaine cigarettes .His Mom Ivette travel back and fourth from the United States trying to stabilize her family. They all lived in different states like Texas Dallas Forthwith , Wilmington Delaware, and finally in the early 90’s Springfield Ma. Juan Miguel was a child from a broken home and his father wasn’t around and drugs and the streets became his second home. Many years struggle with addiction and the incarceration system. In 1997 he was diagnosed with HIV and Hep – C where he became more submerge in his substance Abuse. After years of great struggles he got interested in living a life of recovery and put all his lived experience tours helping others with the same struggles. Miguel as all his well known friends call him has worked in Shelters settings , Recovery Coach for the city of Springfield and Northampton, Community Worker , and In various inpatient substance use programs. His most prideful work has been in the past 7 years where he has work helping the HIV community in a program called A Positive Place in Northampton where he resides as a single parent of a gorgeous boy named Javan Rivera age 6. Image description: A headshot of Juan Miguel, who is wearing glasses.

Jeanette Matthews is a Harm Reduction Peer Educator with the Peer Network of New York. Image description: A headshot of Jeanette who is wearing a purple t-shirt.

Misha (they, she) is a white, working class, chronically ill, queer femme living in western MA on Pocumtuc and Nipmuc land. They are an organizer who works with a national racial justice organization. Image description: A headshot of Misha, who has short curly brown hair and they are smiling. They are wearing a black top.

About the Wild Ivy Social Justice Network: As a project of the Western MA Recovery Learning Community, we seek to increase voice, choice, access, and personal and collective power for those who experience life interrupting emotional distress and other challenges. Contact us at: wildivy@wildfloweralliance.org