MotherJones ND93: Your daughter’s voice

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


When Antigone Hodgins went in for an HIV test three years ago, she never thought she might be positive. “I was totally unprepared,” the twenty-five-year-old San Francisco native says. “I had no pre-test counseling. The woman who gave me the results was someone I’d never seen before. I didn’t understand anything, not even the difference between HIV and AIDS. I cried for three months.”

After the initial shock wore off, Hodgins focused on her anger. She quit college to look for a way to make a difference. But no one was dealing effectively with the population she belonged to: teenagers and young adults, especially young women.

Seeing a need for HIV-positive speakers young people could relate to, Hodgins started speaking in area high schools. Despite bad experiences with judgmental parents and school administrators, she formed a speakers’ bureau to train other young speakers. The bureau now has nineteen speakers under the age of twenty-five.

“One parent told me I didn’t look like I’d sleep with a scummy drug user,” says Hodgins, who had practiced safer sex for several years before she tested. “What do you say? We’re the faces of AIDS. Tell your daughters. Deal with it.”

Statistics back Hodgins up. A United Nations study released last summer describes teenage girls, whose thin vaginal linings make them more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases than older women, as the “leading edge” of the worldwide AIDS epidemic. A 1991 Centers for Disease Control study showed that by ninth grade, 40 percent of all students have had sex, and by twelfth, that number rises to 72 percent. And while heterosexual transmission still accounts for fewer than 10 percent of all reported AIDS cases, rates are rising precipitously. By this year, HIV infection/AIDS had become the sixth-leading cause of death among U.S. citizens ages fifteen through twenty-four.

Hodgins now works full time at Project AHEAD (Alliance for the Health of Adolescents), one of a handful of federally funded Pediatric HIV/AIDS Demonstration Projects aimed at adolescent HIV/AIDS issues. She is also forming a national task force of young HIV-positive men and women to participate in national and international AIDS conferences. Hodgins thinks that one young voice is not enough. “Testing empowered me,” she says. “It can empower other young people, if it’s youth-specific and if there is good pretest counseling, but we need to get together so our voices can be heard.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate