By: Peter Daou on March 06, 2005 Empower Women, Save Lives: Women & AIDS U.S. Tour March 5, 2005 GUEST BLOGGERS Laura Rogers: Director of Advocacy & Communications/Global Health, UNF Jessica Bernstein: Communications Associate, UNF “No one is a random person in the fight against AIDS,” Michaelle Soliman told the junior and senior classes of Stratford High School in Nashville, Tenn. yesterday. “Everyone matters and everyone has power.” Michaelle confided to the sometimes rowdy 160 high schoolers that she had lost both of her parents to AIDS when she was a child in Haiti. That’s why at age 24 she works in the capitol of Haiti to educate young people about the disease and to try to keep them HIV negative. She is one of the four amazing women participating in the seven-day, five city public education tour sponsored by the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. We stood off to the side, truly impressed that for the 20 minutes these young women were ready to share, every young person in the audience was ready to listen. Their stories made it clear that AIDS is not only an issue in Indonesia and Haiti, but also at Stratford High School in Nashville, TN. Kids asked questions about how to keep themselves safe, how it feels to live with a killer disease, and how AIDS changes lives. Michaelle encouraged us all to think about how and why the HIV/AIDS virus is able to spread so rapidly. “AIDS attacks the best of us, and spreads throughout our bodies to destroy us, cell by cell,” she said. “They say that sometimes to defeat an enemy, you have to use its own strategy against it. I am here to tell you that you can be a part of the fight against AIDS by spreading information to people about how to protect themselves, and encouraging them to do so. Tell your friends. Tell your families. Tell your neighbors. This way we can fight this virus by creating a network of informed people that gets larger and larger. You here in this room are the cells of this movement, and when we unite we are so powerful.” Laura & Jessica For more information, visit the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS website.