Paige Rawl was just like any other normal girl. She was a cheerleader, an honor roll student, a soccer player. She was pretty and popular, known as one of the good kids at her Indianapolis middle school. She just happened to be born HIV+. Her mom told her when she was eleven. Paige thought nothing of it; it was just like any other condition you needed to take medicine for, like allergies or asthma.
In her memoir, POSITIVE, Paige tells the story of what happened after she disclosed her HIV-positive status in order to comfort her best friend. Within the next few hours, everyone at her middle school knew. Suddenly, she was “different.” Instead of Paige, they called her PAIDS. Nasty notes were left in her locker and written on bathroom walls. Whispers followed her down the halls. Her soccer coach even proposed that they use her status to win games, suggesting no one would want to touch her. When brought to the attention of the school faculty, they did little to correct the situation and implied she was causing drama. Upset and depressed, Paige withdrew from the school to be homeschooled for the remainder of her eighth grade year.
Despite things changing for the better, even a year later Paigecould not shake all the hurtful bullying she endured. At the age of 15, she decided to commit suicide, taking one pill for each year of her life. Luckily, Paige survived and has since become an advocate and a mentor. At nineteen, she now speaks to children and adults across the country about the lasting effects of bullying – even helping to pass anti-bullying legislation in Indianapolis – and works to create HIV and AIDS awareness. As a finalist in Seventeen Magazine’s “Pretty Amazing” contest, Paige’s story was featured in the October 2013 issue, along with four other young women who are making an impact in their communities.
The above is the publisher’s description. This reviewer found it remarkable, with several surprising twists – and it’s all true! You can listen tour our interview of Paige Rawl by clicking on the grey podcast bar below.