HIV AIDS Stigma and education

Cindy Maldonado

Cindy learned of her HIV positive diagnosis in July 1990 while in Pennsylvania. Her fiancée had recently tested positive for AIDS. They both received medical treatment while also attending the only available support group, which was for gay men. The support group graciously accepted them.

Cindy and her fiancée became board members of Caring Community for AIDS; the first local AIDS service organization in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Cindy worked in several hospitals and nursing homes in the area, including the nationally renowned Geisinger Medical Center, concentrating in the field of nutrition. Cindy and her fiancée married in 1992.

In 1998, Cindy and her husband relocated to Florida, as a temperate climate was needed for her husband’s physical health. Cindy was employed at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and volunteered at local AIDS service agencies before becoming a peer educator for the HugMe Program in 2001. Cindy assisted HIV-positive clients in the medical clinic by providing education regarding all aspects of the disease. Cindy co-facilitated various support groups for teens, pregnant women and mothers, adult men and women, as well as the Consumer Advisory Board.

She attended the local EMA Planning Council meetings monthly, and attended trainings and conferences locally and in various states.  Cindy’s husband passed away in 2011, and in December of that year she dedicated her World AIDS Day testimony in Daytona Beach to him. Cindy is now Co-Chair of PCHAP, the local AIDS planning body of Volusia County. She attends a local support group, and continues to provide presentations as a speaker with the Positive Champions Speakers’ Bureau of Daytona Beach.

Cindy’s personal goals are to support and inspire HIV-infected and affected individuals, increase education regarding the disease, and to decrease stigma and shame.