Paige Rawl is an accomplished speaker and inspirational figure for the tens of thousands of kids to whom she has spoken. Born HIV Positive, Rawl was bullied severely in middle school because of her HIV status. In her memoir Positive, Rawl tells a story that is both deeply personal and universal of how she managed to overcome the trauma of persistent bullying by choosing compassion over cruelty, and resolved to fight daily on behalf of others in her place.
Rawl’s classmates called her cruel nicknames, such as PAIDS. Her soccer coach even made a joke about how her HIV status could help the team, and the school administrators let her down by not protecting her. After leaving her middle school, she decided to take a stand and started to speak out sharing her story. At the age of fourteen, Rawl was granted special permission to become the youngest person to ever be certified through the American Red Cross as an HIV/AIDS Educator. She even pleaded to congress in her home state of Indiana and helped pass the Anti-bullying Bill #1423 that was affective July 1, 2013.
All through high school Rawl was the guest speaker for the I Need You to Listen, Hear, and Understand Me TOUR that was sponsored by Indianapolis Urban League, Indiana AIDS Fund, Indiana State Department of Health, Marion County Public Health Department, Teen Damien, and United Way. This tour travels through Indiana educating youth at schools and churches about HIV/AIDS. In 2013, this tour also added a bullying tour which Rawl has had the opportunity to be the guest for as well. Rawl has had the opportunity to travel on a national level while working with many organizations, sharing her story to try and reduce the stigma towards HIV/AIDS.
Rawl has also been involved with Project Kindle as a part of Speak Out that travels to schools across the country to educate about HIV/AIDS and for the students to hear stories from personal kids impacted by the disease. Project Kindle also has a camp called Camp Kindle that she became involved with in 2010 as a camper and is now a counselor at the camp. This camp is for kids and teens who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Rawl has been treated for her HIV status at Riley Children's Hospital at the Ryan White Infectious Disease Center since her diagnosis. She was named a 2014 Riley Champion. A Riley Champion is someone who is a Riley patient who has inspired communities with their bravery and commitment to help others. They reach beyond their own medical challenges to give meaning to their struggles. Rawl also is a Riley Ambassador and travels to different dance marathons, across the state of Indiana, sharing her Riley story. During her freshman year of college, she had the opportunity to be a part of the Ball State University Dance Marathon Riley Relations committee.
Rawl has been honored numerous times for her involvement in the HIV/AIDS Community. Rawl made the list of 5 Female Stigma Warriors Who Will Inspire in 2014 by Stigma Action Network, Top 10 Young Women to Watch in 2014 by the Emma Willard School, and 10 Kids Who Made A Difference in 2013 by Mom.Me. Rawl was also selected as one of the 5 Years, 5 Heroes. Five people were selected for their extraordinary contributions to the HIV/AIDS community sponsored by Bristol Myer Squibb. She was given the Excellence Award for her recognition for her contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS presented by Positive Living, Inc. Rawl was also selected as one of 5 Seventeen Magazine's Pretty Amazing Finalist in 2013. During her senior year of high school Rawl was chosen by her administrators to receive the Outstanding Leadership Award and chosen by her class as Most Likely to Change the World.
Rawl has been featured in magazines such as POZ, Seventeen, GLAMOUR UK, Girlfriend (Australia's version of Seventeen), Indianapolis Monthly, and was featured in and on the cover of Scholastic Action magazine. She has also been featured in newspapers such as the Indianapolis Star, USA Today, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Ball State University Daily News, Boston Globe, Indianapolis Recorder, and numerous papers across the country. Rawl has also been featured on Nick News with Linda Ellerbee, The Doctors, FOX 59 Female Focus feature, Channel One News World AIDS Day special, and Anti-bullying PSA sponsored by Kohl's Caring for Kids.
Currently, Rawl is a college student who is working towards getting a degree in entrepreneurship and business. She is also working towards starting her own organization for HIV education and anti-bullying advocacy. She plans to continue to travel and speak to reduce the stigma towards HIV/AIDS and be an advocate against bullying.
Praise for Positive:
“Rawl and Benjamin deftly capture the mindset of middle schooler Paige with anecdotes that reveal the teen’s innocence and naïveté. They tackle tough subjects such as suicide delicately but honestly. Readers will come away feeling inspired by Rawl’s work as an HIV/AIDS speaker and anti-bullying advocate.”
“This realistic and honest biography of a young woman living with HIV will draw readers in, shedding light on this difficult topic. The book beautifully conveys what it’s like to grow up with HIV, dispelling myths about the virus and imparting useful knowledge.”
--School Library Journal