SRU’s Student Union for Multicultural Affairs (SUMA) hosted the Red Ribbon Monologues at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Smith Student Center ballroom. President of SUMA and sophomore exercise science major Jesse Nwabueze-ogbo opened the event, followed by a history of the HIV epidemic, given by junior biology major and Vice President of SUMA Josiah Cole. Following the introduction were monologues presented by students.
The monologues delivered included “Patient A” by Lee Blessing and read by Sadie McCoy, “A Moment” by Brent Kincaid and read by Kemoni Farmer, “Positive” by Mike Kwambo and read by Josiah Cole, “The day I heard I had HIV” by an anonymous author and read by Daniel Maurer, “Monologue Two” by an anonymous author and read by Tyshae Gibbson, and finally, “I am Here by Your Side” by an anonymous author and read by Isaac Moodie.
SUMA has been presenting the Red Ribbon Monologues for about seven years; the first event was held in 2010.
A guest speaker finished the night. Melissa Curry, who was present on behalf of Allies for Health and Well-Being located in downtown Pittsburgh, has been a registered nurse for 7 years, is a certified health coach, and a mother of three. She was brought to the Monologues to tell her story about HIV.
Curry was on her last semester of nursing school when she heard the devastating news that she had HIV, which then transformed into AIDS.
“I started making all these excuses as to why I couldn’t be positive,” Curry stated. “I was diagnosed with full blown AIDS; the disease took over my body and I didn’t know it.”
Curry continued her inspiring story with the moment she learned she was pregnant for the second time. Doctors told Curry that, in the state of health she was in, she should terminate the pregnancy; however, Curry is very close to her religion and, for moral reasons, decided that terminating the pregnancy was not going to happen. For weeks on end, Curry was getting weaker as she could not eat or drink. The turnaround point in Curry’s battle came when her first daughter asked her grandmother if her mom was going to die.
“No, I’m going to live,” Curry said.
From this point on, Curry began taking pills and supplements to increase her strength and nutrition. As time went on, it came time for Curry’s final checkup with the OBGYN. On her way to the appointment, she received a call from her doctors telling her that she was undetctable, which meant that she could have a normal pregnancy.
Today, Curry’s second child is living a happy and healthy life. Curry decided to tell her oldest daughter about her fight with HIV AIDS and ask if it was alright for her to tell her story, to which Curry’s daughter responded with, “Momma, I think that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
All three of Curry’s children tested negative for HIV and Curry went on to graduate from nursing school with a Bachelor’s degree; she is now a successful nurse and certified health coach.
“I’ve learned so much through this disease,” Curry said. “The only person that can define you is you, it doesn’t matter your history.”
When Curry’s story ended, warm rounds of applause echoed throughout the ballroom. Nwabueze-ogbo thanked Curry for her time and bravery to share her emotional story with those in attendance.
Keep updated with SUMA and their events by following them on social media on Instagram @srusuma, on Twitter @SRUSuma, and finally on Facebook by following Suma Sru.