Henrieese Roberts sells American street paper Street Sense on the streets of Annapolis, Maryland. She is also a fierce advocate of HIV/AIDS awareness and policy reform.
Motivated by close personal experiences with friends and family, she began working to raise awareness about public health, sexuality and HIV/AIDS issues nearly 30 years ago.
“We fear the disease instead of learning how to circumvent it, and be loving to people that do have it,” says Henrieese.
She also writes regularly for Street Sense about these topics, hoping to break down stereotypes and promote understanding of the illness rather than fear.
Having watched HIV/AIDS change the lives of people – damaging their health and presenting challenges in terms of personal privacy, employment and housing – Henrieese is acutely aware that the disease can be crippling for those already living in poverty.
“There are many people that can’t afford their medications and are on waiting lists to be treated. There are also a lot of unnecessary deaths,” she says.
In 1992, Henrieese herself was diagnosed with histoplasmosis, an infectious disease that has rendered her visually impaired. But she remains optimistic and continues to persevere with her filmmaking and photography career.
“I am going to actualize because I am willing to work hard,” she says.
Through her work she hopes people become more sexually conscious, avoid spreading the disease and reduce the stigma associated with the infection.
This is a summary of an article by Street Sense reporter Jazmine Steele that was published on INSP’s News Service.