Smith is a nurse at the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology's THRIVE Program in Baltimore, Maryland.
It needs to be a combination of both, but I would have to say that lived experiences matter most. The reason why I say that is because how I got into the care of being a nurse, and taking care of patients who are living with HIV -- or HIV is living within them -- is through lived experience. I saw people that were close, that I've developed a relationship with, that I've loved, and watched how the community treated them -- the stigma within the community. That fueled me to do what I do today.
I had my neighbor become HIV positive from her husband. I had some patients from my hospital -- one who I had for 36 nights in my assignment. Thirty-six nights. I still remember the room to this day. Having that experience, watching him and seeing him suffer the way he was suffering, fueled my passion and my drive and my motivation for why I do what I do today.