She’s been a fighter from day one. 18-year-old Ashley Murphy brings her strength, courage and positivity with her everywhere—not letting any challenge stand in her way.
Living with AIDS does not stop Ashley from speaking out and living her life to the fullest! At the age of 10, Ashley started speaking publicly about her condition – breaking the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
Ashley has inspired many with her main message: we can overcome any challenge, and use them to help others! Speaking at her 16th WE Day, we got the chance to speak with her backstage, where she shared some stellar advice.
Why do you think the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is an important discussion, both on the global scale and youth scale?
I think that stigma starts at home, but I feel like with stigma it creates barriers and puts up walls when people should be opening up and not keeping things secret. And especially with HIV and AIDS, when someone finds out they have HIV [other people] will just be like, “I don’t want to talk to you.” That was the perceived notion of what it was years ago… And now it’s become a thing that people think is a thing of the past. That stigma is mainly because we’re not being educated…the most important thing in order to fight the stigma is to educate people.
Do you have any advice for youth that may be facing similar challenges in their life?
Things that have helped me when I go around different schools and companies, I like to say these three things: “Find yourself, find your voice, and find your community.” Because those are three things that have helped me along the way to find who I am as a person; become comfortable… I feel like once kids become more accepting of themselves and find this great community, then they’re able to become more powerful, become more empowered that they want to speak up and help other people, as well as themselves.
You have a pretty significant platform, being here [at WE Day], is there one key take away that you would like the youth to think about after they watch you talk?
Any talk that I give, whether it’s WE Day or speaking at a company or school, I always like to talk about the stigma, because that’s the biggest thing associated with HIV and AIDS. But also, the takeaway of no matter what you’re going through, you can overcome it. I’m a prime example. When I was young I almost died because I was so sick battling HIV, and doctors said I only had a month to live. But I surpassed all their expectations and here I am, 18 years later! I’m strong, I’m healthy and I just want to use my voice to educate others. And I know if people hear my message, they’ll want to do the same because I know they’re capable and maybe see it within themselves.
Are there any acts you’re hoping to check out at WE Day?
I think it would be really cool to see Lilly Singh’s talk because she’s also from Toronto… I have my own hometown people representing in LA!
Thank you Ashley, you’re such an inspiration! Make sure to catch her on the WE Day broadcast on August 28, 7/6 on ABC Network!