Young activist discusses HIV/AIDS epidemic

caines | 3/14/2013, 5:30 a.m.

You dont look like you have HIV! This is the most common statement that comes out of the mouths of youth when Quintara Lady Queen Lane, 26, shares her story at schools across Miami-Dade. But the truth is: she does. Lane, the Miami-native who speaks about HIV awareness at about nine schools a month, was born with HIV. I always tell them you cant tell by looking, she said. Through speaking out, Lane is building awareness among the younger generation, but she believes in order for the youth to be more informed on the virus, Florida schools should restart teaching health education or implement programs in the school system that will bring awareness of HIV/AIDS, such as the HIV/AIDS awareness program that she works for at Switchboard Miami and the RCP Movement. She said the programs would encourage the youth who havent had sex to stay abstinent and teach youth who are sexually active the proper way to protect themselves. According to the Center for Disease Control [CDC], research shows that adolescents need accurate, age-appropriate information about HIV and AIDS because their lack of awareness has caused a large proportion of the youth to become unconcerned about becoming infected with HIV. One-in-four of all new HIV infections is among the youth ages, 13 to 24 years and about four in five of these infections occur in males, according to the CDC. One of the things that I focus on with the youth is that they're not exempt from this disease, Lane said. If they feel as though it can not happen to them, then it might just happen to them. She said the high number of young people contracting the virus is increasing every day and this is why she stresses to them to really know their status.

Through her story, Lane educates

Lane, who was very involved in last weeks prayer for the healing of HIV/AIDS events, led a youth symposium at Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church informing the youth that its all about prevention. But she also told them that if the virus has been contracted, by living a healthy lifestyle they could also live a long life. In addition to the symposium, Lane facilitated a workshop last week Thursday at her home church, Brownsville Church of Christ, in which misconceptions about HIV/AIDS were dispelled and different health service providers were available, about 40 people of all ages were in attendance. Recently, Lane started an organization called LQLane Awareness Movement that is geared towards training people who are infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS to become public speakers and to show support of others with the virus. At the youth symposium, elementary to high school students asked Lane every question that came to their mind about HIV/AIDS, and she effectively informed them all. Miliany Mercado, 17, a Miami Jackson senior high school student who attended the symposium, said she learned that you cant tell who has HIV and who doesnt. She said she plans on trying to help with the cause and spreading the information. Its incredibly important for us to know and to educate ourselves further with information on HIV, Mercado said. Norma Sank, 18, a Miami-Dade College student who attended the symposium, said she enjoyed the event because she learned a lot about HIV. Sometimes what you dont know can either hurt you or kill you, she said. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com