By Christine Kapi’ioho
This was my first time attending USCA and I was absolutely honored and privileged to attend. Coming all the way from Maui, Hawaii and being part Native-Hawaiian and a woman, I learned that there was now a designation for our race under the Constituent Advisory Panels (CAPs) for 2018. We, as Hawaiians are no longer lumped into another category but instead have our own panel which is amazing. Now, there are five CAPs; African American, American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian, Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander. I was able to attend the breakout session on the first day, entitled: Ka Hikina o Ka La – The Dawning of a New Day and luckily it did not conflict with any of my HIV50+ Scholar sessions that were recommended to attend. The session was so informative and was presented by my colleagues throughout the State of Hawaii. I felt that as a Scholar being at the conference was a chance to show that Hawaiians are still around on this planet, that our voices should be heard, and that our Native Hawaiian HIV-positive individuals should be recognized. I thought of my clients whom I serve where I work and how it would be so special to have other Hawaiians attend in 2019. I dreamed of how beneficial it would be to them mentally and to show them they are not alone and that other minorities are not isolating themselves or being ashamed of their status.
I am inspired by all the knowledge and information at the conference. Sometimes I was a little overwhelmed by it all but at the same time going, the fire inside being re-kindled and ignited to a brighter flame so that I can continue the work that I do as Director of Client Services. I come back to my agency, ready to start a stand-alone 50+ HIV positive group to serve those aging with HIV and address their specific, “aging” needs. I also come back to the office ready to do what it takes to bring other Native Hawaiian peoples to the conference in 2019. Thank you NMAC and USCA for allowing me the chance to attend USCA. I plan to bring others in 2019.