Yolanda Bell, Dallas, TX

Yolanda Bell, Dallas, TX

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Yolanda Bell, Dallas, TX

Yolonda Bell was not your average 17-year-old. While most teenagers were navigating high school, worrying about prom and college applications, Yolonda was facing a diagnosis that would change the course of her life forever – HIV. Now, over three decades later, Yolonda has become a fierce advocate and activist in the fight against HIV. Through her own lived experiences with substance misuse, mental health, PTSD, and motherhood, she has dedicated her life to educating others and breaking down the barriers and stigmas that surround this virus.

Yolonda’s journey as an advocate began in 2005 when she joined her local Ryan White Planning Council. This council, created by the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, is responsible for planning and allocating funds for HIV-related services in their community. It was here that Yolonda truly began to educate herself about HIV and how it affected her and her community. But Yolonda didn’t stop there. She also took it upon herself to educate her family on HIV. Through their family-owned newspaper, she wrote and shared HIV-related articles that reached communities across the U.S. and even in the Caribbean. Her determination to spread awareness and understanding of HIV knew no bounds.

One of Yolonda’s greatest achievements was her role in creating the Peer Support Specialist/Peer Navigator role in Broward County. This role, which provides support and resources for individuals living with HIV, has had a tremendous impact on the community. Yolonda’s vision and dedication played a pivotal role in making this a reality. But perhaps one of the most important aspects of Yolonda’s journey is her personal mantra – “Love is Greater than Stigma.” This belief is evident in the support and unconditional love she has received from her family and friends throughout her journey with HIV. Their love and acceptance have given Yolonda the strength and courage to share her story and empower others to do the same.

Currently, Yolonda works at Abounding Prosperity as a Community Health Worker and HIV Intervention Specialist. In this role, she conducts community presentations on HIV, mPox, and Substance Misuse. She is also a certified phlebotomy technician, further demonstrating her dedication to serving and supporting those living with HIV. Despite facing many challenges, Yolonda has persevered and thrived in her personal life as well. She is a divorced mother of two sons, Tylor and Willie, who she describes as individually amazing. She is also a grandmother to four wonderfully beautiful grandchildren, who bring her joy and purpose every day. Yolonda Bell’s resilience and determination are an inspiration to all. Her journey with HIV has not only shaped her own life, but it has also had a significant impact on her community. She continues to break down barriers, advocate for those living with HIV, and spread love and understanding. Yolonda’s story is a testament to the fact that a diagnosis of HIV does not define a person, and with love and support, anything is possible.