> Consumer Perspective | Cindy Maldonado
Cindy Maldonado has seen many changes since she and her fiancée were diagnosed in 1990 in Pennsylvania. At the time, although the only support group in their area was for gay men, Cindy and her fiancée were welcomed. They later became board members of a local AIDS service organization. [EC1]
A move to Orlando, Florida in 1998 opened up many new opportunities for Cindy. Cindy volunteered with local ASOs before becoming a peer educator/family advocate for the HugMe Program in 2001. In HugMe, Cindy assisted clients in the medical clinic by providing education regarding all aspects of HIV disease. She co-facilitated various support groups for teens, pregnant women and mothers, adult men and women. In addition to her "hands on" work with clients, Cindy conducted the consumer advisory board and regularly attended meetings for the EMA's planning council.
More recently, Cindy moved to Daytona, Florida where she is involved in the Positive Champions Speaker's Bureau.
"Positive Champions gives us a voice and also serves as a support system," says Cindy.
In addition to taking part in Positive Champions events, Cindy has been involved in the local planning process and has served as the co-chair of the Partnership for Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Planning (PCHAP) of Volusia County. Through Positive Champions, Cindy attended an NQC Training of Consumers on Quality in December 2014. The training helped her build on her own experiences and those of the people that she has worked with to become a more effective advocate for HIV-related services.
"I'm very good about talking about life experience," says Cindy. "The training helped me understand the basics about using data effectively. Where I need to start and how can I prove there is a need, especially when it comes to funding. Often there can be just a tiny opportunity when you can use the data to get your point across. I now feel prepared to take advantage of those opportunities."