My name is Devarah ‘Dee’ Borrego, and I’m a 28-year-old, HIV+ transwoman originally from Denver, Colorado, who grew up mostly in suburban Connecticut. I acquired HIV at age 20; the same year as I began my transition. I’ve been living in the Boston area since 2004 where I’ve worked with and at a number of different community organizations in the Boston area, including JRI Health, TransCEND, the Boston Living Center and Cambridge Cares About AIDS. I’m also a polyglot – I speaks Spanish, French, Norwegian, American Sign Language, and a variety of other languages to various degrees.
On the national scene, I was also a founding member of the US Positive Women’s Network (US PWN), an organization led by and for HIV+ American women to address the way HIV disproportionately affects women in the US. I currently serve as a Steering Committee member of the US PWN, as well as a member of their Strategic Communications Action Team. I’m also a member of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) North America’s Young Leaders Caucus, and the co-chair of the Economic Justice Working Group for the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA). In 2010, I was chosen to speak at the Opening Plenary of the US Conference on AIDS (USCA) to discuss how HIV affects transgender youth.
I attended the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC during the summer of 2012. At the Conference, I gave presentations along with colleagues for AIDS Alliance for Youth, Families, and Children – now a part of AIDS United – geared at HIV+ youth and their providers on the topic of disclosure. This was also when I first became more active in blogging about the issues surrounding young, HIV+ people, especially transgender women. I’m passionate about HIV prevention, HIV criminalization, and youth outreach and education around HIV.
Why Dee wants to be a part of A Girl Like Me: I want to share my experiences as a young, HIV+ transgender woman with the world because I see so many of my trans sisters in the US and around the world being severely impacted by HIV and by ignorance about what it means to be transgender and HIV+. I see young people, especially young women and transwomen, becoming infected unnecessarily simply because society has not given them the tools to take control of their sexual health and make empowered decisions about their partners and their sexual safety. This lack of education is something that I think needs to be addressed by the system itself, but I feel that the first steps are talking to each other about our experiences as women. My hope is that by sharing my experiences here on A Girl Like Me it will allow more women who are living with HIV to learn more about the transgender community, especially those who may be supportive of the community, but are unsure of the appropriate ways to do so.