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Published: November 13, 2014

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Anthony Roberts Jr.
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Last month, I attended Viiv Healthcare’s First Annual Youth Summit ? and 16th Community Summit ? in Miami, Florida. The Youth Summit gathered 28 young people aged 18-30 from around the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico to collaborate and share ideas on how we can end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Panel discussions and workshops were designed to equip us with new skills and techniques that we can apply to the work we are already doing in the field. At the conclusion of the Youth Summit, we created a Youth HIV Manifesto ?, and I had the honor of narrating the video. The Youth HIV Manifesto allowed us to collectively and individually share our thoughts on awareness, stigma, healthcare, and research.

Even as the Viiv Youth Summit concluded, my learning continued. Before attending the Summit, I filled out a questionnaire that allowed me to express how I wanted to evolve in my career by connecting me to a mentor. As a result, I was honored to connect with Jeff Berry, the Director of Publications for the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) in Chicago. Jeff also serves as TPAN’s editor for their print and digital publication, Positively Aware, a bimonthly HIV/AIDS publication with a subscription and bulk circulation of 100,000 copies per issue. Last year, Jeff blogged for on a photo-sharing project, A Day with HIV. Having a mentor can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop skills for success and a long-range career plan. Jeff’s extensive experience in this field complemented my interest in marketing and communications. I was excited to have Jeff as a new mentor and couldn’t wait to formally meet him.

Over our lunch conversation, Jeff shared that he tested positive for HIV in 1989. At that time, there was not a plethora of information readily available about HIV and AIDS, and the Internet was in its infancy. He found out about TPAN and began reading their print newsletter and later joined the publications staff. Here are some tips and life lessons Jeff shared about his experiences thus far in working for a niche media HIV/AIDS outlet.

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