Putting words into action has always been part of Alecia M. Tramel’s DNA. The 48-year-old mother of three has been a staunch HIV activist since finding out she was poz in 2000. Her journey as a respected voice in the community has grown richer every year.
Tramel says she founded the group Positive People Network in 2015 to unite people from all kinds of backgrounds who are living with HIV in an effort to make positive change in the world.
“Next year, I want to incorporate Positive People Network and help at least 100 people by creating safe social events for people living with HIV in South Florida to meet each other, find support, and build community,” she says. “I want to inspire long-term survivors to mentor the folks who are newly diagnosed, to help and support the next generation.”
This year she became the South Florida state lead for the Positive Women’s Network-USA, an activist organization advocating for HIV-positive women and their issues. She also sits on several boards and is part of the Florida HIV Justice Coalition, which is working to change the state’s discriminatory HIV criminalization laws. And she’s not done yet.
Tramel is fully aware the power our government holds on the lives HIV-positive people, and she vows to never let them forget. “D.C. can help by making sure that funding stays in place to help pay for the programs and services that are critical to care for the health and wellness of our positive community,” she declares, adding that we as citizens also play a role in keeping politicians accountable.
“The biggest problem is still stigma,” she says about issues facing the HIV-positive community. “It seems as strong as it was 35 years ago. We need to confront this fear and discrimination with education and acceptance.”
Today, the activist continues speaking on causes that impact those living with HIV at local organizations, public schools, community health centers, and media outlets. Tramel encourages faith-based communities to get involved too. “Churches can start by being open and accepting, like they should be,” she says. “They need to get involved and help advocate and provide for positive people, setting the example of how we should care for our neighbors.”
Looking back with gratitude, Tramel explains that her demanding life journey couldn’t have happened any other way. “I would tell my younger self to brace herself,” she reflects. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but you have everything you need to succeed inside of you.”