Orange County Register (01.25.12) - Wednesday, February 15,
The Irvine-based AIDS Services Foundation (ASF) hosts a weekly
support group for 20 or so children and teens living with
Recently a six-week puppet-making workshop was held to give
the kids a unique way to express their complex emotions.
"Often people will feel the puppet can express and say things
that they can't," said Krista Ratnaweera, manager of community
partnerships for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which put
on the workshop. "The puppet can help voice things that
they're struggling to talk about."
Twelve-year-old Jesus recalled hearing one boy at school tell
another that he contracted AIDS from having sex with a dog. "I
kind of laugh. On the inside, it's hurting a lot," Jesus said.
Jesus was born with the virus, passed from his unknowingly
infected mother during pregnancy. He believed the pills he
swallowed every morning and night were vitamins until his
mother told him the truth a year ago. "She told me I had a
sickness called HIV," he remembered.
Liz, 18, grew up hearing different reasons as to why her
mother passed away. At age 14 she learned she was born with
HIV, and her mother had died of AIDS. The support group has
helped her realize she can live a normal life. "My doctor said
I'm very healthy," said Liz. "I want to get married and have
children and see them grow up and have grandchildren."
What attendees want more than anything, said Laurie Barber,
ASF's family programs coordinator and leader of the group, "is
to have [HIV/AIDS] not define who they are."