Taking Root Stories

"Taking Root: Our Stories, Our Community" is a community-driven, community-owned initiative that puts the power to end HIV stigma back in the hands of the community. Taking Root reveals the storyteller in each of us. By telling and witnessing our stories, we overcome silence and shame.

It's been said that it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. To tell the story of A&PIs and HIV, we need each of you to take part.

We're all living with HIV, whether we have the virus or not.

Listen with compassion. Share the stories with your friends and family.

Start the conversation #withoutshame.

Order Taking Root DVDs | Visit our Resources Page for materials on how to hold a Taking Root Screening

The Taking Root Digital Storytelling Initiative is supported by the Office of Minority Health Resource Center and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.




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Highlighted Videos


YOLO by mr. yess
YOLO, or "you only live once," is a popular anthem for thrill-seekers, a kind of "carpe diem" for youth. mr. yess, a young Chinese-Vietnamese American gay man, redefines the slogan as a rejection of individual recklessness, choosing instead to embrace the connections that give us a reason to take care of ourselves. NOTE: story contains mild language.

n. 8 by Hatsume
In this moving story, "Hatsume" (not her real name) talks about her shame and fear of being judged by her friends for being HIV-positive. "Hatsume" is a young, Japanese American woman.

How Knowledge Talk to the Heart by Marson Rosario
"How Knowledge Talks to the Heart" tells how one young man learned to support people living with HIV by listening to their experiences with compassion. Since then, Marson has grown into a courageous youth leader and HIV prevention educator. Marson is from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions).

Watch this video in Pohnpeian.




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TAKING ROOT VIDEO COLLECTION


Making Deals by Jaimie
When Jaimie found out she was living with HIV, she found herself "Making Deals" with God in hopes that her two young sons would be negative. Her story is about the transformative power of unconditional love. Jaimie is an outspoken HIV advocate and local woman from Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partners, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, HI).

Where I Came From by Keith
In "Where I Came From," Keith--a former intravenous drug user--finds a way to tell his children his HIV status. Now, he shares his experiences to help others as an HIV community advocate. Keith is a Native Hawaiian man with 7 children and 2 grandchildren, living in Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partners, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, HI).

Injection by Stacia Ohira
"I was predestined to become HIV positive," says Stacia Ohira. In "Injection," Stacia details the conditions in her life that increased her HIV risk as a transgender woman--family rejection, drugs, homelessness, sex work, incarceration--and the acceptance and support she eventually found with her community and children. Stacia is an Asian American transgender woman living in Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partners, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, HI).

Ho'omalu by Malulani
"Ho'omalu" beautifully recounts Malulani's reaction when one of her young clients living with HIV finds out someone has been disclosing his status to the community behind his back. Her story will resonate with other HIV health providers and prevention workers. Malulani is a Native Hawaiian woman who works at the Life Foundation. This story was supported by our partner, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, Hawai'i).

Whatever Happens by Kaleolani
In "Whatever Happens," Kaleolani tells us that the thought of disappointing his parents was his biggest fear when he was diagnosed with AIDS. His story is a powerful reminder of how much we need the love of our family. Kaleolani is a Native Hawaiian health provider and community advocate living in Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partner, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, HI).

Ma Ane'i Au (I Am Here) by Raymond Alejo
In "Ma Ane'i Au (I Am Here)," Raymond Alejo shares how his role as his family's healer and kahu--a Hawaiian spiritual leader--helped him deal with his drug addiction and live a full life with HIV. Raymond is a Filipino and Native Hawaiian HIV nurse in Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partners, the Life Foundation (Honolulu, Hawai'i).

Thank You by Kevin "Woody" Wood
"Thank You" is a memorial to past love and the way HIV stigma can create silence and distance in our relationships. Kevin Wood's (aka "Woody") early experiences with a lover living with HIV inspire his work today as an HIV outreach educator. Woody is a gay man who works at Life Foundation in Honolulu, Hawai'i. This story was supported by our partners, the Life Foundation.

Courage to Live On by Martin Q. Barcinas
By the time Martin was diagnosed with HIV, it had already progressed to AIDS. "Living with AIDS is a daily struggle," he says. But he's found the "Courage to Live On" by sharing his story with others living with or affected by HIV. Martin is a gay Chamorro man from Guam.

Power of Knowledge by Eleanor Setik
In Eleanor Setik's story, she shares how the "Power of Knowledge" can make the difference between support and rejection, an advocate or a stigmatizer. Eleanor is a leader in the HIV treatment and prevention education field in her community. She is also a registered nurse from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia (one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions).

Watch this video in Chuukese.

Regret by Sincera Fritz
In "Regret," Sincera Fritz shares her first, fearful encounter with a person living with HIV. She bravely describes her personal struggle with HIV stigma and is now an HIV prevention outreach worker and powerful advocate for people living with HIV. Sincera is from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia (one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Islander Jurisdictions).

Watch this video in Chuukese.

Journey to Opening by Alice
In "Journey to Opening," Alice--the mother of a young boy--recounts how she found out she was living with HIV. Her story highlights how HIV stigma affects not just individuals, but families and communities. Alice is a Pacific Islander woman from the Solomon Islands.

Light in the Dark by Kichy Joseph
In "Light in the Dark," Kichy Joseph tells us how knowledge can shift stigmatizing beliefs and behaviors--just like it did for him. Kichy is a driven HIV prevention educator and community advocate in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions.

Everybody Came by Tony
In "Everybody Came," Tony tells us how he kept avoiding getting tested for HIV, even as his health deteriorated. Eventually, he ended up in the hospital where he found the healing power of family support. Tony is a gay Chamorro man from Guam.

How Knowledge Talk to the Heart by Marson Rosario
"How Knowledge Talks to the Heart" tells how one young man learned to support people living with HIV by listening to their experiences with compassion. Since then, Marson has grown into a courageous youth leader and HIV prevention educator. Marson is from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions).

Watch this video in Pohnpeian.

Longing for Home by Anonymous
In "Longing for Home," a Marshallese man living with HIV describes his early experiences with HIV stigma. He grew up in the Marshall Islands where a favorite uncle was also diagnosed with HIV. Seeing the way his uncle was treated led to this storyteller avoiding his own HIV tests, for fear of being rejected himself. The Marshall Islands are one of the six US-affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions.

new beginning by hope
"new beginning" is Hope's wish for a future when she can return to her island nation, and the family that rejected her, with her young son. Hope (not her real name) is a Micronesian woman living with HIV in Guam.

Child of God by Kawika
Kawika is a Fijian gay man living with HIV who struggles to reconcile himself with his family and his faith. His story is compassionate and hopeful and is, in itself, an act of reclaiming much of what he thought he lost.

Hope by Robbie Tanuwijaya
Robbie is an Indonesian man whose HIV diagnosis isolated him from his friends and family for six years. In "Hope," Robbie shows how kindness and acceptance can literally save a life.

Every Father's Day by Sarya
Sarya is a young, Cambodian American man who struggles with disclosing family secrets to his nephew. AIDS has touched his family in deep and painful ways. As a family caretaker, Sarya knows he has to have the difficult conversations—the question is, when? Sarya shares his story with openness, honesty, and compassion.

I've Been There by Mei
Mei is a young, Chinese American HIV test counselor who knows what it's like to hear the words: "your test result came back positive." Mei's own experience testing positive for hepatitis B helped her treat her own clients with more compassion and understanding.

I Who Should Thank Her by TAFFY
TAFFY is a Native Hawaiian mahuwahine (transgender woman) HIV test counselor who shares her fear of telling her closest friend and sister that she is HIV positive. With humility and grace, TAFFY tells us that compassion and love can make all the difference in the world.

Breaking Free by Kenya C.
Kenya is a Filipino American gay man living with HIV. His story touches on some of the factors that increased his HIV risk—military service and a resulting PTSD diagnosis, drug use, the awkward and unspoken familial acceptance of his sexual orientation—and the ways HIV treatment and support services have changed his life.

"Life" in "Numbers" by C.C.
C.C. is a Chinese American transgender woman living with HIV whose story touches on her transition from community member to advocate, and what it's like to "become one of the statistics" overnight.

side effects by dtn
In "side effects," dtn (a young Vietnamese American gay man) shares his experience with unsafe sex and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). As he relives the choices that led to his decision to have sex without a condom, he works through his shame and self-recriminations with candid honesty. NOTE: story contains mild language.

He is Vince by Vincent Crisostomo
In "He is Vince," Vincent Crisostomo shares his long journey as a gay Chamorro man living with HIV. Since his diagnosis in 1989, Vince has represented his community as a fierce advocate and HIV prevention worker. Vince's story explores aging and HIV with sensitivity and compassion.

YOLO by mr. yess
YOLO, or "you only live once," is a popular anthem for thrill-seekers, a kind of "carpe diem" for youth. mr. yess, a young Chinese-Vietnamese American gay man, redefines the slogan as a rejection of individual recklessness, choosing instead to embrace the connections that give us a reason to take care of ourselves. NOTE: story contains mild language.

n. 8 by Hatsume
In this moving story, "Hatsume" (not her real name) talks about her shame and fear of being judged by her friends for being HIV-positive. "Hatsume" is a young, Japanese American woman.

All the Truly Important Thingsā€¦ by Eric Zheng
"All the Truly Important Things..." traces the development of a young medical student recently diagnosed with HIV to his current role as an HIV physician. Eric Zheng (not his real name) openly and honestly shares his pain, disappointment, and hope with us. Eric is a Chinese American gay man.

Mauli Ola by Melenie Eleneke
Melenie Eleneke is a traditional healer and health advocate. She is also a mahuwahine (transgender woman) living with HIV. In "Mauli Ola", Melenie shares a story about how the man who infected her with HIV came back into her life in a dramatic way. Her story is about letting go, moving on, and healing.

My Marathon Story by Devesh Khatu
In "My Marathon Story", Devesh Khatu shares an inspirational story about living with HIV as a marathon runner. Devesh is a South Asian gay man.

Niff by Nathan Manuson
"Niff" is a tribute to a close friend of storyteller Nathan Manuson. The death of Niff was a wake-up call for Nathan, to connect to his family and friends so he could have the kind of support that Niff denied himself. Nathan is a Filipino-American gay man living with HIV.

Parachute by Henry Ocampo
In "Parachute", Henry Ocampo talks about how his HIV diagnosis derailed him as a young man just out of college. Henry shares his depression, his pain, and his hope as he takes a metaphorical leap of faith toward his own future. Henry is a Filipino-American gay man.

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CDC Disclaimer: This site contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this website.

The Banyan Tree Project is a program of Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center

Our partners are nonprofit and community-based organizations dedicated to providing HIV referrals, education, outreach, advocacy, prevention and care services to A&PI communities.

This web site was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 1U65PS002095-01 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Taking Root Digital Storytelling Initiative is also supported by the Office of Minority Health Resource Center. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Office of Minority Health Resource Center.