Photo courtesy of: Multicultural Center
Feb 11, 2013
By Adrienne Green
HIV/AIDS specialist David Robertson spoke to an intimate sized crowd in Baker University Center Ballroom on Thursday evening. His talk was part of Ohio University's recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Day.
Robertson told his personal story about battling with HIV and the effects the disease has had on him and his family, using the narrative to challenge attendees to live a life of love and hope.
"It’s not about me. It’s not about you," said Robertson. "It's about all of you hearing a single story that will save you from ignorance but give you hope."
He warned listeners about the importance of HIV testing, noting that it is the only way to secure the safety of their health. He said that believing "it can’t happen to me" only signs people up for trouble.
David Robertson was diagnosed with HIV on June 19, 2007, because he embraced that sophomoric mentality. Since testing positive, he dedicated his life to educating individuals about the disease and aiding those who are affected by HIV/AIDS.
But as he walked across Baker Ballroom, cracking jokes and holding nothing back from his private life, it was obvious he did not let his infectious disease take away his infectious smile. His humor and candor had everyone laughing even as they listened to the accounts of a man who never thought HIV would be a part of his legacy.
"I like that he took a different perspective and talked about hope. He left out the scientific breakdown and his approach gave people a deeper inspiration and understanding," said Kent Harris, a sophomore visual communications major.
Hope was the most important topic of the night. Robertson flashed the hope tattoo on his forearm and explained that hope to him was an acronym for Helping Other People Evolve. He encouraged attendees to define what hope was for themselves, using their personal definition as the key to happiness.
Robertson said that he found hope all the way in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when he was on a mission trip. He explained that he tested a family of seven for HIV, and one after the other tested positive. The volunteers had nothing to give the dying family but chewable vitamins. The experience made him look at his condition in a new light, and on his next birthday, his gift to the city will be an HIV treatment clinic.
"Hope is the expectation of greatness," said Robertson. "This chair, this carpet, this stage, none of the things in this room can do anything but be used. But we are human and we can have hope."
Robertson produced a 30-minute documentary titled "H.I.V. (Helping Innocent Vessels)" that followed his struggles with his HIV diagnosis, his brother's life with AIDS and their mother’s experience having two sons affected by the same disease. He continues to act as an infectious disease specialist, author and motivational speaker as he creates his next documentary.
"It was good to hear about different issues but in a more humorous way. Overall very inspiring and he provided a great story of perseverance," said Markita Briggs, a sophomore public relations major at Ohio University.